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UC-MRtF

273 663
THE ROBERT E COWAN COLLECTION

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
HY

C. P. HUNTINGTON

! Recession No :ss No

?!35"
LEGAL RECREATIONS.

VOL. III

Judidikl u
JUDICIAL
PUZZLES.

Gathered from the State Trials.

JOHN PAGET, ESQ.,


Barrister-at-law, Recorder of Thames Police Court.

SAN FRANCISCO :

WHITNEY & Co.


1876.
COPYRIGHT 187G,

BY
STJMNER WHITNEY & CO.
PREFACE.

These narratives and reviews of five most in

teresting State trials were published in u Black-

wood s Magazine "

in 1859-60,and subsequently
reprinted, among other contributions of the same

author, in a volume entitled "

Paradoxes and
Puzzles."

The publishers present this American edition


with the belief that it will prove attractive to
general readers as well as the legal profession and
add a pleasant variety to the series of "LEGAL
RECREATIONS."

January, 1876.

[5]
CONTENTS.

I. ELIZABETH
Her story 10-20
Henry Fielding 20
Sir Crispe G-ascoyne 27
Conviction of Squires and Wells 27
Conviction of Canning 35

II. THE CAMPDEX WONDER.


TRIAL OF THE PEHIIYS FOR MURDER OF HARRISON.
1

Chipping Campden 37
Justice Shallow and Will Squele 38
Disappearance of Harrison 39
Confession of John Perry 41
Trial and execution of Joan, Richard, and John Terry. 43
Return of Harrison 44
His narrative 44
Confessions 51
Mania for self-accusation - 51
Cowper, the poet 51
Case at Calais 52
Confession of the witches 52
Isabel Gowdie, Janet Breadheid 53
Modern cases CO
Samuel Wall GO
Mutiny of the llermione 65

III. THE ANNESLEY CASE.


Marriage of Lord Altham 69
Appearance of the claimant 70
CONTENTS.

His trial fur murder, and acquittal 71


Had Lady Altham ever had a child ? 73
The household at Dumnaine 73
Contradictory evidence 7481
Evidence of Palliser, Joan Laffan, and Mary Heath . . 78
Kidnapping of James Annesley 84
Contradictory verdicts 85, 8G

IV. ELIZA PENNING.


Her funeral 87
Her trial 89-96
Reasons for believing her guilty 1)7

Rule of law preventing accused from giving evidence. 100


Inconsistency of the rule 101
Evils of the rule 101
Hatche s case 102
Plummer s case 103
Case of Squires 104
Canning s case 104
Suggested alteration of the rule 104
The Road Murder .... 106

V. SPENCER COWPER S CASE.


Sarah Stout 109
Character of Spencer Cowper 110
His trial 112
"Walker s evidence 112
Cowper s defense 115
Finding of the body of Sarah Stout 119
Lord Macaulay s account of the trial 123
His misrepresentations of facts and distortion of evi
dence 129
The Quakers 135
William Tallack 137
Lord Maeaulay s unscrupulous treatment of facts a

dangerous weapon 140


Might be easily turned against himself 140
OF THE
UNIVERSITY

JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

I.

ELIZABETH CANNING.

Every one has heard of the case of Elizabeth Can


ning. It is constantly quoted, constantly relied up
on as an authority for propositions the most diverse
and even contradictory. There is a general vague
idea that an ingenious fraud was by some marvel
ous agency detected, that innocence was rescued
from imminent peril, and truth vindicated but by ;

what means or under what circumstances this took


place, who was innocent and who was guilty, very
few of those in whose mouths the name of the case
is most familiar would be able to say. To any one
who has taken the pains to make himself master of
the case, this hazy condition of mind will be any
thing but surprising. It is, in truth, perhaps, the
most complete and most inexplicable Judicial Puz
zle on record;
and after reading four hundred and
twenty-nine pages of close bad print, in the 19th
volume of the State Trials," a candid man will
"

find himself equally amazed at the zeal, the indus

try, the ingenuity with which it was sought to dis


cover where the truth really lay and the way in
;

which, notwithstanding the fullest and most patient


[9J
10 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

inquiry, that truth, though apparently close -at


hand, still eluded its pursuers.
Elizabeth Canning was a servant girl in the fam
ily of a man of the name of Edward Lyon, a car
penter in Aldermanbury. At the time in question
(1753) she was about eighteen years of age. Her
father had, during his lifetime, been also in the
employment of Mr. Lyon her mother resided in
;

the immediate neighborhood. She had previously


been in the service of another neighbor of the name
of Wintlebury for nearly two years : there was
every opportunity and every motive for the strict
est examination of her character, and it bore
the investigation without the slightest stain being
detected. On the 1st of January, 1753, her mistress
gave Elizabeth Canning permission to spend the
day with an uncle of the name of Collcy, who lived
Bank, now known as Dock Street, near
at Saltpetre
Well-Close Square, and immediately behind the
London Dock. In the evening Colley and his wife
accomptmied her on her way back to her master s
in Aldermanbury as far as Houndsditch, where

they parted from her soon after nine o clock. At


this point she was lost sight of. She did not return
to her master s nor to her mother. The surprise,
alarm, and anxiety of her friends were extreme.
Advertisements were repeatedly inserted in the
papers, offering rewards for her discovery. It was
said that a shriek had been heard, as of some female
in distress, in a
hackney-coach in Bishopsgate Street,
and attempts were made to find the driver, but in
vain. No trace of the lost girl could be discovered.
ELIZABETH CAXXIXG. 11

On the 29th of January, about a quarter after


ten o clock in the evening, just as they were pre
paring to fasten up the house, and to go to bed, the
latch of her mother s door was lifted, and a figure
entered, pale, tottering, emaciated, livid, bent al
most double, with no clothes but her shift, a
wretched petticoat, and a filthy bed-gown, a rag
tied over her head, bloody from a wound on her
ear. Such was the condition in which Elizabeth
Canning returned after an absence of four weeks.
Where had she been ? what had happened to her
during those weeks ?
The first question which presents itself is, What
was the account given by the girl herself ? Then
follows the inquiry how far that account is supported,
or in what respects is it contradicted, by evidence
subsequently produced? As we proceed, we shall
find ourselves involved in a most perplexing and
difficult investigation, but for the present we may
confine our attention to Canning s own account. It
was given in the presence of many witnesses, with
out apparent preparation or concert with any one
indeed there was no time for this, as, immediately
upon he r arrival, the neighbors flocked in to ex
press their sympathy and satisfy their curiosity.
Few minutes had elapsed before the house was full.
Her former master, Mr. Wintlebury, (who seems
to have had a very kindly feeling towards her, and
who gave her the highest character) was among
them; another neighbor, of the name of Robert
Scarratt, was also there, and many more. The
statement made by Canning in reply to their in-
12 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

quiries was, that as she passed through Moorfields,


after parting from her uncle and aunt, she was at
tacked by two men, who robbed her of what money
she had about her, stripped off her gown, and struck
her a blow which rendered her insensible. That
when she came to herself, she found that she was
being dragged along a road ; that about four o clock
in themorning they arrived at a house, into which
she was carried by these two men; "when she
came in, there was an elderly woman and two
young ones the old woman took hold of her arm
;

and asked if she would go their way? and she said


Then she went and took a knife out of a
"No.

drawer, and cut the lacing of her stays and took


them off, and gave her a great slap in the face, and
told her she should suffer in the flesh, and opened a
door, and shoved her up a pair of stairs into a room."*
This room she described as a "longish,
darkish
room,"fwhich there was some hay,$ a pitcher
in
of water, some pieces of bread about as much
as would be equal in quantity to a quartern loaf ;

that there was a fireplace and a grate, out of


which she took the bedgown she had on, and the
rag which was tied over her head that there was a ;

cask, a saddle, a pewter basin, and a few other


articles, which she specified, in the room that the ;

house was ten or eleven miles from London on the


Hertfordshire road that there was a staircase near
;

the room, up and down which she heard persons pass*


* Evidence of 19 State Trials, 504.
Mary Myers,
t Scarratt, 496-501.
J Myers, 505.
OF THR
TJNIVERSITY
ELIZABETH C^^^^lfOFH^^ 13

ing during the night and that she had heard the
"

name of Mother Wills or Mother Wells mention


ed." Whether this last statement as to the name
of Wells was made in reply to a suggestion or not,
is, however, doubtful Scarratt stating that it was
in reply to an expression used by him when he
hearcl she had been on the Hertfordshire road, that
he would lay a guinea to a farthing she had been
"

at Mother Wells s ;* whilst Mary Myers states that


"

Canning had mentioned the name of Wells to her


before Scarratt spoke, and that if Scarratt had
spoken previously she must have heard him.| She
certainly said she had been confined in a room on
the Hertfordshire road before any suggestion had
been made to her ;$ and when asked how she knew "

that?" accounted for it by saying that she had


seen, through the crevices of the boards which were
nailed over the window, a coachman, to whom she
had been accustomed to carry parcels for her
master addressed to Hertford, and by whose coach
her mistress had been in the habit of traveling,
drive past the house. She said, that after remain
ing confined in this room, with no other food than
the bread and water, and a minced pie which she
happened to have in her pocket, from the 1st of
January till the 29th, she escaped out at the win
dow by pulling some of the boards down, and in
doing so tore her ear. She described the woman
who robbed her of her stays as a tall, black, swar- "

*
Scarratt, 495. J Woodward, 5:>7
; Wintlebury, 510.
t Myers, 505; Wintlebury ,-510. Myers, 505.

PUZZLES 2.
14 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

thy woman."* Scarratt, whose suspicions had, as


we have seen, pointed at Wells, immediately observ
ed that that description did not answer to her."t
"

She then described very particularly the course she


took through the fields, past a tan-yard and over a
little bridge into the high-road, after
making her
escape through the window. This description was,
however, given in reply to leading questions put by
Scarratt but it is worthy of remark that she said
;

she met a man, and asked her road to London t a


fact which, as we shall presently see, was sub

sequently confirmed by the evidence of a witness of


the name of Bennett.
Such in substance was the account given by Eliza
beth Canning on the evening of the 29th of January.
Is it a matter of surprise that such a story, told by a
young girl at the moment of her restoration to her
family, spoken in the starts and snatches of extreme
debility and exhaustion, attested by her emaciated
form, her pallid cheek, her numb and withered limbs,
should find deep sympathy and ready relief from
those who had known her from childhood, who had
listened day by day, for four weeks, to the lamenta
tions of her mother, and who had felt, as every day

passed, their hopes grow fainter, and their fears as


sume more and more the aspect of certainty ? And,
after all, is there such improbability on the face of
the story as should induce us even now to reject it
as incredible ? The robbery in Moorfields was the
*
Woodward, 508 ; Scarratt, 49C.
t Scarratt, 496.
t Scarratt, 496.
Bennett, 627.
ELIZABETH CAXXIXG. 15

most probable of occurrences. It is impossible to take


a
up newspaper of that period without finding simi
lar outrages recorded. It is true that it is difficult
to assign any motive that could induce the robbers
to encumber themselves with the strongest proof
of their crime, by carrying her off ; but it is equally
difficult to suggest any cause other than that which
she herself assigned for the condition to which she
was reduced. An attempt was made during the
proceedings to show a connection to have existed
between Elizabeth Canning and the witness Scar-
ratt, but the attempt utterly failed. Scarratt swore
(and he would have been easily contradicted had he
sworn falsely) that he had no acquaintance with the
girl ;
and although he resided in the neighborhood,
he believed he had never even seen her until the
night of her return to her mother s house. It was
upon her saying that she had been on the Hertford
shire road that his suspicions pointed to Wells house,
which he had before known as one of evil repute,
as the place of her confinement ; but his good faith is
shown by his admission that he mentioned the name
of Wells to her first, and the description which Can

ning gave of the room could not have been sug


gested by his questions, as he had never been in it.*
The description which she gave of the woman who
cut off her stays is also conclusive that she was not
prompted by Scarratt, who, when he heard it, im
mediately said that it did not answer to Wells, who
was the person he suspected.
* Scarratt, 498.
16 JUDICIAL* PUZZLES.

On
the day but one after, the 31st of January,
Canning repeated her story to Alderman Chitty,
who was the sitting alderman at the time, and who
thereupon issued his warrant for the apprehension
of Mother Wells.
Onthe 1st of February, Canning, accompanied by
her mother and her friends, went with the officer
who had charge of the warrant to Enfield Wash.
The house of Mother Wells still stands a little
beyond the tenth milestone on the Hertford road.
It is on the right hand, at the corner of the lane

leading down to the Ordnance Factory Station of


the Eastern Counties Railway. The shell has been
but little altered, and the rooms still remain
nearly
the same as they appear on the plan which was pub
lished in the "Gentleman s Magazine" for 1753.
If the truth of Elizabeth Canning s
story was to be
proved in the same way as Jack Cade s royal de
scent, the bricks are alive to this day to testify
"

it."

The window through which she escaped still com


mands a view of the road to Hertford. Chingford
Hill might still, but for the cottages which have

sprung up in consequence of the railway station, be


seen, as she described, from the other window.
The pantiles of the roof still remain unpointed, and
everything bears testimony to the truth of her de
scription. But instead of Mother Wells and her
gang of tramps and gipsies, we found, on our visit
to Enfield Wash, a comely matron presiding at a
table surrounded by bonny lasses and chubby boys
from sixteen downwards, whose laughing blue
eyes and clear, rosy complexions formed as strong
ELIZABETH CAXNTXG. 17

and agreeable a contrast to poor Elizabeth Can

ning as the bright furniture, cheerful hearth, and


blazing fire did to the desolation, filth, and dis
comfort which formerly prevailed in that now com
fortable dwelling. Assuredly fate seems to have
mingled a very fair allowance of sugar and nutmeg
in the cup of Mr. Xegus for such is the jolly name
of the present occupant of the house, who seems to
be, and we trust is, driving a prosperous trade as a
baker.
Canning was earned from room to room, and at
last into the loft. She immediately said, This is "

the room I was in, but there is more hay in it than


there was when I was here and she pushed some
;
"*

of the hay aside with her foot, and showed two


holes in the floor which she had observed. She
pointed out the cask, the saddle, the pitcher, the
tobacco-mould, and the pewter basin, t which she
had mentioned on her arrival at her mother s ; and
she correctly described the view which might be
seen from each of the windows. On examination,
the boards which closed up the window at which
she said she had escaped, were found to have been
only fastened there very recently, as the wood was "

fresh split with driving a great nail through it, and


the crack seemed as fresh as could be."J

Could there be stronger confirmation of the truth


of her story ? By what means could
Canning have
acquired this accurate knowledge? It has been
said that the room did not agree with Canning s
* Adamson, 517.
Myers, 606. J
t Scarratt, 497 :
Myers, 506.
18 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

description. A careful examination of the evidence


shows, however, that it coincided with that descrip
tion in the most remarkable manner. There were,
no doubt, some discrepancies for instance, Canning
had mentioned a grate, and there proved to be
none. She had spoken of a saddle, and three were
found. She had spoken of being locJced in, whilst
in fact the door was fastened only with a button or
bolt. There were some other trifling inaccuracies.
Suspicion had pointed at Wells as the person
who had committed the outrage; but when Can
ning was brought into the room in which all the
inmates of the house were collected, contradicting
the expectation of her friends, she passed Wells by
unnoticed, and, pointing to an old gipsy woman of
the name of Mary Squires, who was sitting by the
fire, said,
"

That old woman


in the corner was the
woman that robbed The gipsy rose from her
me."

seat, drew aside the cloak in which she was partially


muffled, and displayed a face such as, once seen,
could not easily be forgotten. She was, as Canning
had described her, tall, dark, "

and swarthy." She


looked steadfastly at Canning, and exclaimed, Me "

rob you never saw you in


! I my life before. For
God Almighty s sake do not swear my life away !

Pray, madam, look at this face if you have once ;

seen it before, you must have remembered it for :

God Almighty, I think, never made such another.


Pray, madam, when do you say I robbed you?"
Canning said it was on the first day of the new
year. Lord bless me
"

exclaimed the gipsy, I


!
" "

was a hundred and twenty miles from this place


ELIZABETH CAXXIXG. 19

then George Squires, the gipsy s son, immedi


"

ately added, We were in Dorsetshire at that time,


"

at a place called Abbotsbury we went there to


;

keep our Christmas." Here we arrive at the begin


ning of what makes this case so remarkable. We
have insisted on the importance of the first account
given by Canning. The gipsy and her son are en
titled to a like consideration. This prompt and
ready alibi, asserted without hesitation, specifying
time and place with undoubting accuracy, and thus
affording means for testing its truth, gave occasion
to the very remarkable conflict of testimony which
followed, and which entitles this case to its rank as
one of the most interesting on record. An alibi

is, as has often been remarked, the best or the


worst of defenses. It often depends upon a few
miles or even a few yards of distance, or upon a
clock being a few minutes fast or slow. No such
nicety arises in this case. The robbery was commit
ted early on the morning of the 1st of January Xew
Year s Day a date easily fixed. Abbotsbury is a
hundred and fifty miles, as the crow flies, from
Enfield: the gipsy understated the distance. It
also often involves difficult questions of personal

identity. Xone such arise here. The gipsy spoke


truly when she said that "God Almighty never
made such another face as She was not
hers."

only singularly hideous, but deeply marked with


the scars of disease ; and the witnesses who were
examined had many of them been long familiar
with her appearance. These circumstances seem
to exclude the possibility of mistake on the part of

OF THE
UNIVERSITY
20 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

the witnesses. Must we then resort to the conclu


sion that one side or the other guilty of perjury?
is

This hypothesis, though easy and simple enough at


first sight, will be found on investigation to be

attended with nearly as many difficulties as any


other. We
must, however, go back to Elizabeth
Canning, whom we left in Mother Wells kitchen,
confronted by the gipsy and her son. In the house,
besides the gipsy and her family, was a man of the
singular name of Fortune Natus and his wife, and
a young woman named Virtue Hall. The whole
party were forthwith taken to the residence of the
nearest magistrate, Mr. Teshmaker, of Ford s Grove,
by whom all were discharged with the exception of
the gipsy and Mother Wells, who were committed
to prison to take their trial, the one for stealing

Canning s stays, and the other as accessory to the


felony.
A new actor now comes on the stage, and a
curious insight is afforded into the mode in which
inquiries of this nature were conducted in the
metropolis a hundred years ago.
Henry Fielding, the celebrated novelist, was then
a police magistrate of London.
To tell a tale told by Fielding in any words but
his own would indeed be presumption.
Upon the 6th of February," he says,* as I was
" "

sitting in my room, Counselor Maden being then


with me, my clerk delivered me a case, which was
thus, as I remember, indorsed at the top : The case
* A Clear State of the Case of Elizabeth Canning, by Henry Fielding,
Esq., 1753, p. 30.
ELIZABETH CANNING. 21

of Elizabeth Canning, for Mr. Fielding s opinion ;

and at the bottom, Salt, Solr. Upon the receipt


of this case, withmy fee, I bid my clerk give my
service to Mr. Salt, and tell him that I would take
the case with me into the country, whither I intend
ed to go the next day, and desired he would call
for it on the Friday morning afterwards; after
which, without looking into it, I delivered it to my
wife, who was then drinking tea with us, and who
laid it by. The reader will pardon my being so
particular in these circumstances, as they seem, how
ever trifling they may be in themselves, to show the
true nature of this whole transaction, which hath
been so basely misrepresented, and as they will all
be attested by a gentleman of fashion, and of as
much honor as any in the nation. My clerk pres
ently returned up-stairs, and brought Mr. Salt with
him, who, when he came into the room, told me
that he believed the question would be of little diffi
culty, and begged me earnestly to read it over then,
and give him my opinion, as it was a matter of some
haste, being of a criminal nature, and he feared the
parties would make their escape. Upon this, I de
sired him to sit down and when the tea was ended,
;

I ordered my wife to fetch me back the case, which


I then read over, and found it to contain a
very full
and clear state of the whole affair relating to the
usage of this girl, with a query what methods might
be proper to take to bring the offenders to justice ;

which query I answered in the best manner I was


able. Mr. Salt then desired that Elizabeth
Canning
might swear to her information before me; and
22 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

added that was the very particular desire of


it

several gentlemen of that end of the town, that


Virtue Hall might be examined by me relating to
her knowledge of this affair. This business I at first

declined, partly as it was a transaction which had


happened at a distant part of the country, as it had
been examined already by a gentleman with whom
I have the pleasure ofsome acquaintance, and of
whose worth and integrity I have, with all, I be
lieve, who know him, a very high opinion ;
but prin
cipally, indeed, for that I had been almost fatigued
to death with several tedious examinations at that
time, and had intended to refresh myself with a
day or two s interval in the country, where I had
not been, unless on a Sunday, for a long time. I
yielded, however, at last, to the importunities of Mr.
Salt and my only motives for so doing were, be
;

some curiosity, occasioned


sides those importunities,

by the extraordinary nature of the case, and a great


compassion for the dreadful condition of the girl,
as it was represented to me by Mr. Salt.
"

The next day Elizabeth Canning was brought in


a chair to and being led up-stairs between
my house,
two, the following information, which I had never
before seen, was read over to her, when she swore
to the truth, and set her mark to it."

Here follows Canning s information, somewhat


expanded from the one made before Alderman Chit-
ty, but in the main
the same.
this information," continues Fielding,
"

I
Upon
"

issued a warrant against all who should be found res


ident in the house of the said Wells, as idle and dis-
ELIZABETH CAXXIXG. 23

orderly persons, and persons of evil name, that they


might appear before me, and give security for their
good behavior upon which warrant, Virtue Hall
;

and one Judith Nntus were seized and brought be


fore me, both being found at Mother Wells .
They
were in my house above an hour or more before I
was at leisure to see them, during which tune, and
before I had ever seen Virtue Hall, I was informed
that she would confess the w hole matter. When
r

she came before me she appeared in tears, vand


seemed all over in a trembling condition, upon which
I endeavored to soothe and comfort her. The words
I first spoke to her, as well as I can rembember,
were these :
Child, you need not be under this fear
and apprehension; if you will tell us the whole
truth of this affair, I give you my word and honor,
as far as it is in my power to protect you, you shall
come to no manner of harm. She answered that
she would tell the whole truth, but desired to have
some time given her to recover from her fright.
Upon this, I ordered a chair to be brought her, and
desired her to sit down ;
and then, after some min
utes, began to examine her, which I continued doing
in the softest language and kindest manner I was

able, for a considerable time, till she had been guilty


of so many prevarications and contradictions that I
told her I would examine her no longer, but would
commit her to prison, and leave her to stand or fall
by the evidence against her and at the same time
;

advised Mr. Salt to prosecute her as a felon, togeth


er with the gipsy woman. Upon this she begged I
would hear her once more, and said that she would
24 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

tell the whole truth, and accounted for her unwilling


ness to do it from her fears of the
gipsy woman and
Wells. I then asked her a few questions, which
she answered with more appearance of truth than
she had done before after which I recommended
;

to Mr. Salt to go with her, and take her information


in writing and at her parting from me, I bid her
;

to be a good girl, and be sure to say neither more


nor less than the whole truth. During this whole
time there were no less than ten or a dozen persons
of credit present, who will, I suppose, testify the
truth of this whole transaction as it is here related.
Virtue Hall then went from me, and returned in
about two hours when the following information,
;

which was, as she said, taken from her mouth, was


read over to her, and signed with her mark."
The information of Virtue Hall, as might be ex
pected from the circumstances under which it was
taken, is a mere echo to that of Canning.
What should we think at the present day of a
magistrate who received a fee ad
instructions from
a prosecuting solicitor, who hesitated to investigate
a charge of felony because he wanted a day or two
of relaxation in the country, who alternately coaxed
and threatened the prisoner who had been brought
before him on his own warrant, until he had ob
tained a confession, and who then allowed that pris
oner to be closeted in private with the attorney for
the prosecution, and to be sworn to an information
in
procured from her by the attorney during that
terview, and produced ready cut and dried The !

imivete with which Fielding tells the story is amus-


ELIZABETH CANNING. 25

ing. He was
clearly unconscious that he was doing
anything wrong or even irregular, and no doubt
such a preceding was by no means unusual. But
the evidence of Virtue Hall is under these circum
stances utterly worthless. We need feel no sur
prise that she afterwards, when the pressure came
from the other side, retracted every word she had
sworn, and her testimony may be cast out of the
case altogether.* We still get no further than the
evidence of Elizabeth Canning herself.
On the 21st of February, 1753, Mary Squires and
Susannah Wells were placed at the bar of the Old
Bailey. Canning told her story Virtue Hall cor ;

roborated it point by point. The condition in which


she returned home, and the circumstances attending
the capture of Squires and Wells, were proved as
we have narrated them. Squires was then called
upon for her defense. She said nothing, but called
three witnesses. John Gibbons, who kept a public-
house at Abbotsbury, near Dorchester, swore that
Squires was at his house from the 1st of January to
the 9th. William Clarke corroborated this state
ment. Thomas Greville, of Coombe, near Salisbury,
deponed that she was at his house on the 14th of
January. To meet this evidence, a man of the name
of Iniser was
on behalf of the prosecution to
called
prove that he had seen Squires in the neighborhood
of Enfield about the time in question
namely, the
firstweek in January. Wells, on being called upon,
admitted that her character would not bear investi-
* State
Trials, six. 455, 275 ; Gascoync s Report ; Dr. Hill s pamphlet.
Sec A. full and authentic Account," etc.,
"

p. 06.

PUZZLES 3.
26 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

gation. She was what was called in the slang of


the day (rendered classic by Mr. Harrison Ains-
worth and the Newgate-Calendar school of novel
ists) a "

hempen widow." Her husband had been


"

unfortunate." It is curious to watch the changes


of language. A
word which then meant that a
scoundrel had been hanged, now only implies that
lie has obtained a second-class certificate from a com

missioner of bankruptcy. Both were convicted.


On the last day of the session they were called up
for sentence. Squires then said that she was at
Grcville house at Coombe on New Year s Day, on
s

the next day at Stopage, on the Thursday in New


Year s week at Basingstokc, on Friday at Bagshot,
on Saturday at Old Brentford, where she remained
on Sunday and Monday and th.it she came to En-
;

field on the Tuesday following. This account, be


ing inconsistent with that given by Gibbons, who
had sworn that from the 1st to the 9th of January
she was at his house at Abbotsbury, was considered
to be conclusive of the falsehood of her defense. It
seems to have been overlooked that the gipsy reck
oned by the old style, which reconciles the two
statements within two days no very serious dis
crepancy when made by an ignorant and illiterate
woman. Squires was sentenced to death; Wells
was condemned to be branded on the hand, and im
prisoned, for six months. The first part of this sen
tence was immediately executed and as the poor ;

wretch s hand hissed under the glowing iron, and


she writhed and screamed in agony, a yell of de
light burst from the brutal mob who crowded the
session-house.
ELIZABETH

There was, however, happily cue man present, of


sense and humanity. Sir Crispe Gascoyne, who

presided over the court by virtue of his office as


Lord Mayor, doubted the correctness of the verdict.
He instituted a close and careful inquiry. He
found the evidence of the Abbotsbury men con
firmed by their neighbors. Virtue Hall retracted
her evidence.* These facts he laid before the
Crown on making his report of the convicts. They
were referred to the law-officers. Squires was res
pited. The Attorney and Solicitor-General reported
that the weight of the evidence was in the convict s
favor, and upon this she received a free pardon.
A war of pamphlets now commenced ;
as many
as thirty-six were published. Fielding on the one
side and Ramsay the painter on the other, became
respectively the champions of Canning and the
gipsy. The newspapers were filled with the con
troversy. Portraits of Canning and of the gipsy
(the latter of which fully bear out the report of her
ugliness) were displayed in the shop windows, to
gether with plans and views of Wells house,
and terrific representations of the principal inci
dents of the story. Grub Street thrived. To its

hungry inhabitants
Betty Canning was at least,
"

With Gascoyne s help, a six mouths feast."t

The town was divided into Egyptians and Can-


niugites. Families were split up into factions. Old
friends who took different sides quarreled. Mobs

*
Report, State Trials, xix, 275.
t Churchill Ghost, 182.
28 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

paraded the streets, blockaded the entrances to the


courts, and attacked Sir Crispc Gascoync in Ids
coach. Never, probably, has a case which involved
no public question created so much interest and
excitement.
This state of things continued for fourteen
months. At length, on the 29th of April 1754,
Canning was placed at the same bar at which
Squires had formerly stood, to take her trial for
willfuland corrupt perjury. Her trial lasted several
days. The attention of the prosecution was di
rected principally to two points first, to prove the
:

alibi of the gipsy; and, secondly, to contradict


Canning s story by the evidence of persons who had
been in the room during the time she professed to
have been confined there.
In support of the first of these issues they called
as many as thirty-six witnesses;and certainly, if
numbers, positivcness, and particularity could prove
an issue, this was proved. But when the evidence
comes to be examined, much of it is open to grave
suspicion. George Squires, the gipsy s son, gave
the most minute account of where he and his mother
and sister and what they did during the
were,
month of January. lie traced their course day by
day, and from place to place. But when he was
asked with regard to the rest of his journey, which
he stated began about Michaelmas, he was totally
unable to answer. His sister, who was in court the
whole time, and who had accompanied George and
his mother in their travels, was never examined at

all, nor was the gipsy herself placed in the witness-


ELIZABETH CANNING. 29

box. It wa:s obvious that the counsel for the pros


ecution feared that they would give inconsistent
or contradictory accounts.
Upon the second issue, the principal witnesses
were Fortune Natus and his wife, who swore that

they sleft in the loft every night during the month


of January. If this was true, of course there is an
end of the question. But it must be remembered
that, long before they were examined, Virtue Hall
had sworn that the hay in which they had slept in
the kitchen was removed into the loft, and that they
slept there after Canning s escape, on purpose to give
color to this very story. It may also be asked, why
was not this tale told on the trial of Squires ? If

true, the very first thing that would have been said,
when Canning stated that she had been confined in
that room, would have been,
That cannot be, for
"

Natus and his wife slept there the whole of the


time." Yet Natus and his wife were present when
Canning was first brought down to Enfield; they
were taken before Justice Teshmaker; they were
present during the trial of Squires, when they were
not examined, and this fact, conclusive, if true, is
never heard of until fourteen months afterwards!
Is it any reliance upon evidence
possible to place
given under such circumstances ?

The argument most strongly relied upon as in


validating Canning s story, arises from the absence
of motive on the part of any one to carry her off
and shut her up as she described. Canning swore
that she understood the gipsy s question, whether
she would go their way," to imply that she should
"
30 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

lead a life of prostitution. This was the interpreta


tion popularly adopted ; and much of the sympathy
which Canning obtained was given on the supposi
tion that she was a girl whose virtue had been proof

against both temptation and terror. But this hypoth


esis will not bear a moment s investigation. There
is not one particle of evidence that she was
exposed
to any solicitations whatever of this kind. Nor,
though it was the resort of tramps, gipsies, and
other disreputable characters, docs it appear that
Mother Wells was what is commonly understood
by a house of ill-fame. But docs the absence of as
signable motive justify us in rejecting the story as
untrue? Those who are familiar with criminal
courts know well how slight and insignificant are
the motives which often impel men to the most
terrible crimes. Gleeson Wilson entered the house
of Mrs. Henrickson, at Liverpool, apparently with
no other intention but that of pilfering such small
articles ashe might have an opportunity of purloin
ing as a lodger but before he left it the next morn
;

ing, he had committed four of the most atrocious


murders on record. It is not more than three or
four years since two boys, returning home from their
work, in broad daylight, in the middle of London,
were met by an apparently respectable man driving
a Whitechapel cart, Avho inquired his way to some
place in the neighborhood. One of the boys began
to give him directions, when he asked the little
fellow to get into the cart, and show him the road.
Rejoicing in the certainty of a ride, and the hope
of a sixpence, the poor boy got into the cart, and
ELIZABETH CANNING. 31

his companion went home to tea. He was never


again seen alive. About six weeks afterwards, his
body, naked, in a state of the most extreme emacia
tion, was found in a ditch near Acton. There was
no external violence. He had been starved to
death. The police exhausted every means that in
genuity could suggest, but in vain. No traces have
ever been discovered how, why, or by whom this
appalling crime was committed nor has any motive
;

for its commission been, so far as we are aware,


even suggested. Had Elizabeth Canning died in
the house of Mother Wells, and her body been
thrown into a ditch in Enfield marsh, an equally
impenetrable mystery would probably have shrouded
her fate.
Highly improbable every one must admit Can
ning s story to be, and we must therefore look with

the most critical caution upon the confirmatory


evidence, before we permit ourselves to admit its
truth. That confirmatory evidence divides itself into
two classes. The first we may call the circumstan
tial confirmation, derived from its coincidence with

existing facts. Such is the coincidence between


her description of the room and its contents given
on the 29th of January, with the condition of the
room actually found on the first of February.
Such, too, is the coincidence of the description pre
viously given by Canning of the appearance of the
woman who cut off her stays with the gipsy. This
confirmation is of course weaker or stronger in pro
portion as it is tainted by or free from previous
suggestions from, other persons. Thus, her descrip-
OZ JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

tion of the room, which was independent of, and


her description of the gipsy, which was contra
dictory to, Scarratt s suggestions, are worthy of
much consideration whilst her description of the
;

fields through which she passed, of the tan-yard and


the bridge, given in reply to his suggestive ques
tions, is of little or no value. This we have already
considered. The second class is the extrinsic con
firmation derived from the testimony of witnesses,
and this is again divided into that which supports
Canning s story, and that which contradicts the
alibi set up by Squires.
As to the first of these subdivisions, the evidence
is
scanty, but valuable as far as it goes. Th*>,

keeper of the turnpike gate on Stamford Hill, about


three miles from Moorfields, deposed that, one
evening early in January, between ten and eleven
o clock, he heard something of a sobbing crying
"

voice," coming towards the gate from the direction

of London. The night was still and dark, but as


the noise approached he saw two men dragging a
young woman along. They lifted her over the
stile by the gate, and one of the men laughed and

said with an oath, How drunk she is


"

!
"

Sup
posing this to be the case, and that the woman w^as
the Avife or sister of one of the men, besides consid
ering that he was sir jle-handed, he did not inter
fere, and they passed on in the direction of Enfield.
He did not profess to identify Canning, nor to fix
the time with any greater certainty than that it
was the beginning of January.
It be remembered that, on her arrival at
will

home, Canning said, that soon after escaping from


ELIZABETH CANNING. 33

Mother Wells ,
she asked her road to London.
Thomas Bennett deponed, that on the afternoon of
the 29th of January he met a girl in the most
wretched and pitiable condition, and whose des
cription exactly answered to Canning, about a quar
ter of a mile on the London side of Mother Wells
house that she asked him the way to London, and
;

he directed her. He fixed the date by other cir


cumstances, and said that when, a day or two after
wards, he heard of Canning s escape, he exclaimed,
ll be
"I
hanged if I did not meet the young
woman near this place, and told her the way to Lon
don."

Daniel Dyer and Mary Cobb gave similar evi


dence as to having met a miserable looking girl
about the same time and place, and the former
spoke with some confidence to Canning as being
that girl. It will be observed that the other wit
nesses merely speak to general similarity. But this,
though at first sight it appears to detract from the
value of their testimony, in fact adds to its weight.
Had they not been giving truthful evidence, they
would have made little scruple in swearing posi

tively to Canning as being the person they saw.


Is it, then, likely that another girl, so closely

answering the description both as to person and


circumstances, (both being so remarkable) should
have been dragged by two men along that road
towards Enfield, at the same hour of the night, at
the beginning of January, and have returned on the
afternoon of the 29th ? Such a coincidence appears
almost beyond the bounds of possibility.
34 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

Here the evidence with regard to Canning ends.


To meet the alibi proved by the thirty-six Ab-
botsbury witnesses, twenty-six Enfield witnesses
were called, who swore that they had seen Mary
Squires at Enfield and in the neighborhood at
various times during the latter end of December
and beginning of January. They swore to the

identity of Squires, whom many of them had long


known, with the utmost certainty they gave their
;

reasons, some good and some bad, for remembering


the time with the greatest accuracy. Their testi

mony seems to be in all respects equal, and in some


superior, to that of the witnesses who had proved
the alibi.
Here, then, we find the extraordinary fact of
thirty-six witnesses positively swearing that a par
ticular person, whom
they well knew, was in Dorset
shire at a certain time, and twenty-six other witness
es swearing that the same person, whom they knew

equally well, was at the same time a hundred and


fiftymiles off, in Middlesex What are we to make
!

of this ? We have it over and over, looked


turned
at it and
this
way that way, read it backwards, and
forwards, and upside down, and there it remains,
puzzling us like a horrid incubus or incomprehensi
ble nightmare. any faith to be placed in human
Is

testimony ? Read
the evidence on one side, and it
is impossible to refuse our assent to it. Read that
on the other, and it is equally conclusive. The alibi
and the ill are each supported by a train of evi
dence which appears irresistible.
The Recorder told the jury that if they believed
the Enfield witnesses, the Abbotsbury witnesses
ELIZABETH CANNING. 35

must be but he forgot to add,


willfully perjured
;

that theyifbelieved the Abbotsbury witnesses, an


equally unpleasant consequence followed as to the
Enfield witnesses.
The verdict of the jury was of a piece with the
rest of the case. They found that Canning was
"guilty
of perjury, but not willful and corrupt"
This verdict was of course an acquittal, but the
Recorder refused to receive it; whereupon the jury
turned their backs upon themselves," and having
"

first declared on their oaths that she was not


guilty
of willful and corrupt perjury, declared on the same
oaths that she nets. And to complete the mass of
absurdity and contradiction, some of the jury after
wards made an affidavit that they believed Can
ning s story in the main, but found her guilty be
cause they thought there was some discrepancy as
to the day on which she had exhausted her pitcher
of water.
Of the court, which, as then constituted, consisted
of amixed body of judges and city magistrates, nine
members were for condemning the prisoner to trans
portation for seven years, and eight for inflicting
only a short period of imprisonment, so evenly were
opinions divided. She was accordingly transported.
The sympathy and compassion which had been ex
cited by her case did not cease. A considerable
sum of money was After the ter
collected for her.
mination of her sentence she returned to England,
and the last notice we find of her is the following,
which is contained in the Annual Register for
"
"

1761, p. 179: "Elizabeth Canning is arrived in


36 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

England, and received a legacy of 500, left her


three years ago by an old lady of Newington Green."
Wells returned to Enfield, where she died, as ap
pears by the parish register, on the 5th of October,
1763. What became of the gipsy we know not.
Thus ends the case of Elizabeth Canning a case

eminently fitted to give occasion to the wannest,


most eager, and most confident partisanship, inas
much as it is almost impossible, after the coolest and
most deliberate examination, to say to which side
the balance of evidence inclines.
II.

THE CAMPDEN

The little market-town of Chipping-Cainpden lies


on the verge of the Cotswold Hills. It is a quaint
old place, formed of one straggling street of low-
gabled houses, with an ancient market-house in the
middle. The ruins of Campden House, built in the
year 1612 by Sir Baptist Hickes, (the princely mer
chant who erected Hickes Hall, and gave it to the
county of Middlesex) remain a monument of the
loyalty of his grandson, Baptist Lord Noel, who
burnt his magnificent mansion to prevent it from
falling into the hands of the Parliament troops.
Railroads have only lately traversed this out-of-
the-way part of England. It is not on the. high-road
to anywhere, and though the country around possess
es beauties peculiarly its own, it has never been fre

quented by tourists. It is best known by the love


which Shakespeare evidently bore to it. There can
be no doubt that it was the haunt of his boyhood.
When Slender taunts Master Page by telling him
that he hears his fallow greyhound was outrun on
"

Cotswold," we may be sure that many a course on


those wide and then open downs must have risen to
Shakespeare s recollection. It is here, too, that he
places that pleasant arbor in Justice Shallow s
orchard, where he ate a last year s pippen of his
"

own grafting, with a dish of carraways, and so forth,"


PUZZLES 4. [ 37 ]
JUDICIAL TUZZLES.

with Falstaff and his cousin Silence." It was


"

a "

goodly dwelling and a rich." Cousin Silence was,


we have no doubt, a Campden manj and trolled out
liis
fragments of carols at the little bowling-green
there. Shakespeare tells us that he was a towns
man. Is old Double of your town living yet ?
" "

Old Double, who is immortal because he died. See,


"

see he drew a good bow. And dead


! he shot a !

fine shoot. John of Gaunt loved him well, and bet


ted much money on his head. Dead How a score !

of good ewes now? And is old Double dead?"


He probably acquired the skill as an archer, which
endeared him to John of Gaunt," at those games
"

on Dover s Hill, in the immediate neighborhood,


which were celebrated by Ben Jonson, and which
were held there annually until a few years ago.
Will Squele," too, was a Cotswold man." Shake
"
"

speare must have loved the place, or he never would


have coined so endearing a name. Who has not a
kindly feeling towards Will Squele? The com
mentators have puzzled themselves greatly after
their usual fashion, and have devised ingenious and

improbable reasons why Falstaff s tailor should be


one Master Dombledon." They have sought for
"

abstruse meanings in the name, stupidly fancying


that it was originally written Doublcdonc, and im
plied a double charge. It is simply the name of a
hilla few miles beyond Campden, and the use of it
affords an additional proof of Shakespeare s familiar
ity with the country.
This little town was,
in the year 1GGO, the scene
of a tragedy so extraordinary that it is still remem
bered by the name of "The Campden Wonder."
THE CAMPDEX WONDER. 39

On the 16th of August in that year, an old man


of the name of William Harrison, who was stew
ard to Lady Campden, and resided in the part of
Campden House which still remained habitable,
went on foot to Charringworth, a village about two
miles distant, to receive some rents. He did not
return so soon as was expected, and his wife, feeling
some alarm at his absence, sent his servant, John
Perry, to meet him, about eight or nine o clock.
Neither Perry nor his master returning that night,
the son of the latter set out early in the morning in
search of his father. On his way towards Charring
worth he met Perry, who told him that his father
was not at that place, and they went together in
search of him to Ebrington, (a village between
Campden and Charringworth) where they were in
formed that Harrison had called the evening before
at the house of a man of the name of Daniel, on his
return from Charringworth, but had almost imme
diately proceeded on his way towards Campden.
This was the last they could hear of the old man.
But in the meantime a hat and comb, much hacked
and cut, and a band stained with blood, which was
recognized as having been worn by him on that
night, were found in a wild spot, near a large furze
brake, between Ebrington and Campden. The re
port immediately, and very naturally, arose that
Mr. Harrison had been waylaid, robbed, and mur
dered, and the whole population of the town
turned out to search for his body. Their search was
in vain no trace of it could be discovered. Suspi
cion fell upon John Perry. The spot where the

OF THE
UNIVERSITY
40 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

hat was found was just where he would have been


likely to have met him on his return. He knew
that he was going to receive a considerable sum of
money. His master had left Ebrington safe. Per
ry s absence during the whole of the night was sus
picious. The natural thing would have been, had
he failed to meet his master, to have returned at
once to Campden. He was taken into custody, and
the next day was brought before a justice of peace.
The account he gave was, that he had started on his
way towards Charringworth immediately upon re

ceiving his mistress orders to do so that after go


;

ing a short distance, he met a man of -the name of


Reed, and, feeling afraid to go on in the dark, had
returned with him to Campden that he had started
;

again with one Pearce, and, after going a short dis


tance, had again returned. That he then went into
the hen-roost, Avherc he remained till about twelve
o clock, when, the moon having risen, he took cour

age and again set out but a mist rising, he lost his
;

way, and lay under a hedge till morning, when he


went on to Charringworth, and inquired for his mas
ter of one Edward Plaistercr, who told him that he
had paid him twenty- three pounds the afternoon pre
vious. That he made further inquiries, but without
success and on his return home, about five o clock
;

in the morning, met his master s son. This account,


which was confirmed by the three men he referred
to, was not considered satisfactory, and, after re

maining in custody about a week, Perry expressed


a desire to be taken before the justice, to whom he
said he Avould disclose what he would discover to
no one else.
THE CAMPDEX WOXDEK. 41

He then said that, ever since he had been in his


master s service, his mother and his brother had
been urging him to join them in robbing him. That
their scheme was to waylay him on his return from

receiving the rents. That he had accordingly in


formed his brother, on the morning of the day when
Mr. Harrison went to Charringworth, of the errand
upon which he had gone. That on the same even
ing, immediately after he had received his mistress
orders, he met his brother, and they went together
towards Charringworth. That he watched his mas
ter, on his return, go into a field called the Cony-

gree, through which a private path, which he was


in the habit of using, led to his house. That he
told his brother that if he followed him he might
"

have his money, and he in the meantime would


walk a turn in the fields." That soon afterwards,
following his brother, he found his master on the
ground in the middle of the field, his brother
upon him, and his mother standing by. That his
master was not then dead, for he exclaimed, Ah, "

rogues! will you kill me?" That he begged his


brother not to kill him; but he replied, "Peace,
peace you
! are a fool and strangled him. That
"

his brother took a bag of money out of his master s

pocket, and threw it into his mother s lap ; that they


then carried the body into the garden, intending to
throw it into a large sink that he left it in the gar
;

den, and went to watch and listen, whilst, as he be


lieved, his mother and brother put the body into
the sink but whether they did so or not he could
;

not positively say. That going back into the town he


42 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

met PcurcG, and wont with him towards Chtirring-


wortli, as he had before stated. That he then re
turned to the hen-roost, and taking his master s hat,
band, and comb, he cut them with his knife, and
threw them in the road where they were found.
Upon this, strict searcli was made for the body,
not only in the place which Perry had mentioned,
but in all ponds in the neighborhood, and amongst
the ruins of Campden House but in vain. Joan
and Richard Perry, the mother and brother of John,
were taken into custody. They vehemently pro
tested their innocence, and upbraided John for his
falsehood. He still, however, stuck to his story,
and retorted upon them with bitter reproaches for
having urged him to the commission of so horrible
a crime affirming that he had spoken nothing but
the truth, and declaring that he was ready to justify
it to his death.

Immediately after the examination of the prison


ers before the magistrate, a very remarkable cir
cumstance occurred. They were removed sepa
rately, and of course in custody, John being some
distance in advance of Richard. The latter, pull "

ing a clout out of his pocket, dropped a ball of


inkle, which one of his guard taking up, he desired
him to restore, saying it was only his wife s hair-
lace." The constable, finding a noose at the end of
it, and feeling some suspicion, took it to John and
asked him if he knew anything of it, on which John
shook his head and said, "Yea, to his sorrow; for
that was the string /us Irotlier strangled Jus master
with?
THE CAMPDEN WONDEE. 43

Unfortunately, the only narrative which exists of


this singular case diverges at this point into mat
ters irrelevant to the main issue ; but at the spring
assizes an interval of something
following, after
more than months, the three Perrys were tried
six
for the murder. Up to this time, John Perry had

persisted in his story. On the trial, however, he,


like his mother and brother, pleaded not guilty, and
when his confession was proved, alleged that he
was "then mad, and knew not what he said."
We are left in ignorance what evidence, beyond
the confession of John, was produced at the trial.
That there must have been some is clear, as that
confession, though evidence against John, was none
against his mother or Richard. All three were
convicted, and a few days afterwards hanged, on
Broadway Hill, within sight of the . town of
Campden.
As Joan Perry was suspected to be a witch, and
was supposed to have bewitched her sons so as to
prevent them from confessing, she was hanged first.
"After which, Richard,
being upon the ladder, pro
fessed, as he had done all along, that he was wholly
innocent of the fact for which he was then to die ;

and that he knew nothing of Mr. Harrison s death,


nor what was become of him and did with great
;

earnestness beg and beseech his brother (for the


satisfaction of the whole world and his own con

science) to declare what he knew concerning him ;

but he, with a dogged and surly carriage, told the


people he was not obliged to confess to them;
yet immediately before his death he said he knew
44 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

nothing of his master death, nor what was become


s

of him, but theymight hereafter possibly hear."


John Perry was hanged in chains upon a gibbet
placed on the Broadway Hill.
Some
years afterwards Mr. Harrison returned to
Campden. The account he gave of the cause of
liis
disappearance, and of his adventures during the
period of his absence, in a letter to Sir Thomas
Overbury of Bourton, (the nephew and heir of the
unhappy victim of the infamous Countess of Somer
set) is so curious that we give it entire/*
"

HONORED SIR : In obedience to your com


mands, you this true account of my being
I give
carried away beyond the seas, my continuance there,
and return home. On a Thursday, in the after
noon, in the time of harvest, I went to Charring-
worth to demand rents, due to my Lady Campden ;

at which time the tenants were


busy in the fields,
and late ere they came home, which occasioned my
stay there till the close of the evening. I expected
a considerable sum, but received only tlirec-and-
twenty pounds, and no more. In my return home
(in the narrow passage, amongst Ebrington furzes)
there met me one horseman, and said, Art thou
there ? and I, fearing that he would have rid over
me, struck his horse over the nose; whereupon
he struck at me with his sword several blows, and
ran it into my side, while I (with my little cane)
made my defense as well as I could. At last
another came behind me, run me into the thigh,
laid hold on the collar of
iny doublet, and drew
*14 State Trials, 1313 note to the case of Captain Green.
THE CAMPDEN WONDEE. 45

me to a hedge near the place; then came in an


other. They did not take
my money, but mounted
me behind one of them, drew my arms about
his middle, and fastened my wrists together with

something that had a spring-lock to it, as I con


ceived, by hearing it give a snap as they put it on ;

then they threw a great cloak over me, and conveyed


me away. In the night they alighted at a hay-rick
which stood near unto a stone pit by a wall-side,
where they took away my money. About two
hours before day (as I heard one of them tell the
other he thought it to be then) they tumbled me
into the stone pit. They stayed (as I thought)
about an hour at the hay-rick, when they took horse
again. One of them bade me come out of the pit ;
I answered they had my money already, and asked
what they would do with me ; whereupon he struck
me again, drew me out, and pnt a great quantity of
money into my pockets, and mounted me again after
the same manner and on the Friday, about sunset-
;

ting, me to a lone house upon a heath


they brought
(by a thicket of bushes) where they took me down
almost dead, being sorely bruised with the carriage
of the money. When the woman of the house saw
that I could neither stand nor speak, she asked them
whether or no they had brought a dead man ? They
answered no, but a friend that was hurt, and they
were carrying him to a chirurgeon. She answered,
if
they did not make haste, their friend would be
dead before they could bring him to one. Then
they laid me on cushions, and suffered none to come
into the room but a little girl. There we stayed all
46 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

night, they giving me some broth and strong waters ;

and in the morning, very early, they mounted me


as before, and on Saturday night
they brought me
to a place where were two or three houses, in one
of which I lay all night on cushions their bedside.
by
On Sunday morning they carried me from thence,
and about three or four o clock they brought me to
a place by the sea-side, called Deal, where
they laid
me down on the ground and one of them staying
;

by me, the other two walked a little off to meet a


man, with whom they talked, and in their discourse
I heard them mention seven
pounds after which;

they went away together, and about half an hour


after returned. The man (whose name, as I after
heard, was Wrenshaw) said he feared I would die
before he could get me on board. Then presently
they put me into a boat, and carried me on ship
board, where my wounds were remained
dressed. I
in the ship (as near as I could reckon) about six-

weeks, in which time I was indifferently recovered


of my wounds and weakness. Then the master of
the ship came and told me (and the rest who were
in the same condition) that he discovered three
Turkish ships. We all offered to fight in the de
fense of the ship and ourselves, but lie commanded
us to keep close, and said he would deal with them
well enough. A little while after he called us up,
and when we came on the deck we saw two Turkish
ships close by us into one of them we were put,
;

and placed in a dark hole, where how long we con


tinued before we landed, I know not. When we
were landed they led us two days journey, and put
THE CAMPDEX WOXDEK. 47

us into a great house or prison, where we remained


four days and a half and then came to us eight men
;

to view us, who seemed to be officers they called ;

us, and examined us of our trades and callings,


which every one answered. One said he was a
chirurgeon, another that he was a broadcloth weaver,
and I (after two or three demands) said I had some
skill in physic. We three were set by, and taken
by three of those eight men that came to view us.
It was my chance to be chosen by a grave physician
who lived near Smyrna,
of eighty-seven years of age,
who had formerly been in England, and knew Crow-
land in Lincolnshire, which he preferred before all
other places in England. He employed me to keep
his still-house, and gave me a silver bowl, double
gilt, to drink in. My business was most in that
place but once he set me to gather cotton wool,
;

which I not doing to his mind, he struck me down


to the ground, and after drew his stiletto to stab
me ; holding up my hands to him, he gave
but I,
a stamp, and turned from me, for which I render
thanks to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who
stayed his hand and preserved me. I was there
about a year and three-quarters, and then my master
fellsick on a Thursday, and sent for me, and calling
me, as he used, by the name of Boll, told me he
should die, and bade me shift for myself. He died
on Saturday following, and I presently hastened
with my bowl to a port almost a day s journey dis
tant, the way to which place I knew, having been
twice there, employed by my master about the car
riage of his cotton wool. When I came thither, I
48 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

addressed myself to two men who came out of a


ship of Hamborough, which (as they said) was
bound for Portugal within three or four days. I
inquired of them for an English ship they answered,
;

there was none. I entreated them to take me into


their ship ; they answered, they durst not, for fear
of being discovered by the searchers, which might
occasion the forfeiture, not only of their goods, but
also of their lives. I was very importunate with
them, but could not prevail they left me to wait
;

on Providence, which at length brought another out


of the same ship, to whom I made known my con

dition, craving his assistance for my


transportation ;
liemade me the like answer as the former, and was
as stiff in his denial, till the sight of bowl put
my
him to a pause. He returned to the ship, and after
half an hour s space he came back again, accom
panied with another seaman, and for my bowl un
dertook to transport me but told me I must be
;

contented to lie down in the keel, and endure much


hardship, which I was content to do, to gain my
liberty. So they took me aboard, and placed me
below in the vessel, in a very uneasy place, and
obscured me with boards and other things, where I
lay undiscovered, notwithstanding the strict search
that was made in the vessel. two chapmen,
My
who had my bowl, honestly furnished me with
victuals daily until we arrived at Lisbon, in Port

ugal, where (as soon as the master had left the ship,
and was gone into the city) they set me on shore,
moneyless, to shift for myself. I knew not what
course to take, but, as Providence led me, I went
THE CAMPDEN WONDER. 49

up into the city, and came into a fair street and


;

being weary, I turned my back to a wall, and leaned


upon my staff. Over against me were four gentle
men After a while, one of
discoursing together.
them came and spake to me in a language
to me,
that I understood not. I told him I was an English
man, and understood not what he spake. He an
swered me in plain English, that he understood me,
*
and was himself born near Wisbech, in Lincolnshire
then I related to him. my sad condition; and he,
taking compassion on me, took me with him, pro
vided for me lodging and diet, and by his interest
with a master of a ship bound for England, procured
my passage and bringing me on shipboard, he be
;

stowed wine and strong waters on me, and, at his


return, gave me eight stivers, and commended me
to the care of the master of the ship, who landed
me safe at Dover, from whence I made shift to get
to London, where, being furnished with necessaries,
I came into the country.
Thus, honored sir, I have given you a true ac
"

count of my sufferings, and happy deliverance by


the mercy and goodness of God, my most gracious
Father in Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Redeemer,
to whose name be ascribed all honor, praise, and

glory. I conclude, and rest, your worships, in all


dutiful respect, WILLIAM HARRISON."
It is difficult to say what amount of credence
should be given to this extraordinary narrative.
On the one hand it
appears impossible to assign a
sufficient motive for kidnapping the old man. The
TCZZLES 5.
50 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

persons who attacked him would have been exposed


to far less danger of detection had they either mur
dered him at once, or left him to take his chance of
life inthe stone pit after the robbery and much;

profit was not


likely to accrue from the sale of the
old man as a slave. On the other hand, it must be
remembered that the country was at that time in a
disturbed state, and that the risk of detection must
not be estimated by what it would be at the present
day that kidnapping was not an uncommon crime
; ;

and that no other mode of accounting for Harrison s


disappearance has ever been suggested. But be
this story true or not, the fact that he had not been
murdered is unquestionable. The innocence of the
Pcrrys of the crime for which they had suffered
death was established beyond the possibility of
doubt and we have to deal with the fact, a start
;

ling one certainly, that John Perry not only sacri


ficed the lives of two persons with whom he was

closely connected, but his own also, to a falsehood


which he had no motive whatever for committing.
This opens one of the darkest and strangest pages
in the history of human nature. There can be no
doubt that he was a victim of that remarkable form
of mental disease which induces the sufferer to

charge himself and others with imaginary crimes


a malady far more common than ordinary observers
suppose. From the earliest periods as to which we
have any records, down to the present day, this ter
rible disease has from time to time presented itself
under various forms. The purest minds and the
highest intellects have suffered from it no less than
THE CAMPDEX WONDER. 51

the ignorant and the degraded. Indeed, it would


seem as if those minds which are most delicately
strung, and tuned to the most refined sensibility,
are peculiarly liable to its attack. Few men prob
ably have led so pure and innocent a life, or one
which afforded so little ground for self-reproval, as
the poet Cowper; yet he has told us that "the
sense of sin and the expectation of punishment,"
feeling that he had committed a crime he "

the "

knew not what was ever present to his mind.


There is one incident of this disease, with regard
to which those who (as has been the case with our
selves inmore instances than one) are brought into
contact with the sufferer, should be especially upon
their guard. So thoroughly is he convinced of the
truth of his story, he narrates it with such earnest
ness and simplicity, that unless some circumstance
has occurred to put the listener upon his guard, it
is next to
impossible for him to refuse his assent to
its truth. As one, who has left a record of the im
pressions produced on his own mind during the
prevalence of delusion, has told us, of the two, the
"

appearance of the bed, walls, and furniture of his


room was false, not his preternatural impressions,"*
itfollows, from this strong internal conviction, that
nothing surprises or startles the sufferers. When
John Perry was shown the cord which fell from his
brother s pocket, had he been fabricating a story he
would have paused to consider what he should say,
and would very probably have been betrayed into a
* Narrative of tlie Treatment of a Gentleman during Derangement,
03. 1838.
52 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

contradiction or an inconsistency. But his diseased


imagination at once seized upon the circumstance
as food for the delusion with which his mind was
impressed, and wove it into the narrative in a man
ner which bore the closest possible resemblance to
actual truth, because to his mind it was truth.
Acase which, in some of its features, bore a
striking resemblance to that of the Perrys, is re
corded as having happened in the neighborhood of
Calais, nearly a century earlier.
A woman disappeared, and suspicion arose that
she had been made away with. A
man was found
lurking in a wood in the neighborhood, and, be

traying symptoms of fear and apprehension, he was


arrested on suspicion of having murdered her,
confessed the crime, and A^as executed. In two
years the woman returned. The heir of the un
happy sufferer sued the judge who had condemned
him for damages. They ought not, it was argued,
to have condemned any one for the murder until
the body had been found, or its absence satisfac
accounted for in other words, until the cor
torily ;

pus had been proved* -a principle well


delicti
known to our law, and acted upon, in the first in
stance, in the case of the Perrys, whom Sir Christo
pher Turner refused to try at the assizes immedi
ately following their apprehension, on this very
ground. How the difficulty was got over after
wards does not appear.
It is like calling up spirits from the dead to open
* Annseus Robertas, lib. 1, c. iv.
THE CAMPDEN WONDER. 53

the stained and faded pages of the old reporters of


the proceedings in the Parliament of Paris, or the
equally interesting records of trials in our own
country, and to read the harangues of forgotten
advocates upon interests long gone by, passions long
burnt out, and superstitions which the world has
outgrown. Nothing is more curious and interesting
than to note how, through each change of circum
stance and opinion, the human mind remains the
same, and to observe the mode in which its delu
sions shape and accommodate themselves to the

prevailing belief of the day, or the particular cir


cumstances by which the patient is surrounded.
In the year 1662, the parish of Aulderne, about
midway between Cawdor and Torres, (the scene of
Macbeth s interview with the witches) witnessed a
very remarkable display of the former kind. Mas
"

ter Harie Forbes," the minister of the parish, Wil


liam Dallas, the Sheriff-Depute, and the other mag
nates of the neighborhood, assembled to receive the
full and voluntary confession of Isabell Gowdie.
This confession is perhaps the most curious docu
ment that is to be found
relating to the history of
witchcraft. We certainly know of none that is so
comprehensive. It is a compendium of the learning
on that very curious subject, and it is especially
valuable for the internal evidence which it contains,
that it was voluntary and sincere so minute, par
ticular, and earnest is it, that even now it is diffi
cult to keep in mind that it was merely the creation
of a diseased brain.
Isabell first met the devil accidentally between
54 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

the farmlands of Drumdewin and llic sea-shore, but


he prevailed upon her to give him an assignation at
night in the kirk of Aldcrne. There they met, Isa-
bell being accompanied by a confidant, one Mar

garet Brodie. The devil mounted the reader s desk,


with a black book in his hand. Isabell renounced
her baptism, and putting one hand on the top of
her head, and the other on the sole of her fool,
made over all between them to the arch-enemy,
who thereupon baptized her afresh in his own name.
Nothing more occurred at this interview, but it was
not long before a second took place, the details of
which we must pass over. Isabell was now wholly
given up to the devil, and she and her neighbors
were employed by him in the commission of crimes
of different kinds, up to murder itself. She enu
merates those who constituted her company or
"

covin," to use the technical name ; and, curiously


enough, the truth of her confessions is confirmed by
one at least of her supposed accomplices. There is
a wild and picturesque imagination about Isabell
Gowdie s confessions, which is not often found in
such details. When she describes the mode that
was adopted away the fruit of
to take the land, she
rivals the grotesque power of Callot.
Before
Candlemas," she says,
"

we Avent by East "

Kinloss, and then we a


yoked plewghc of paddokis.*
The divill held the plcwgho, and John Younge in
Mebestone, our officer did dry we the pkvwghe.
Paddokis did draw the plewghc as oxen; quick-
ensf were somes $ a riglan s horn was a cowter
; ;

*
Frogs. t Twitch, couclLgruss. J Traces. A ridgel rum.
THE CAMPDEN WOXDEK. 55

and a piece of a riglan s horn was a sok. We went


two several times about and all we of the covin
;

went still up and downe with the plewghe praying


to the devil for the fruit of that land, and that this
tles and briers might grow there."
She visited Fairyland, like Thomas the Rhymer.
The Queen of Faerie was brawli clothed in whyte
"

linens," and the King of Faerie was a "braw man,


weill-favored and broad-faced," but she was af "

frighted by the elf bulls, which went up and downe


thair rowtting and skoylling and her information
"

as to that terra incognita is but scanty.


Isabel! s confession occupied four days. She gives
at length the uncouth rhymes by means of which
tempests were raised, which enabled her to fly
through the air on storms, to change her form for
that of a bird, a cat, a hare, or any other animal at
will. Her amours with the devil she details with
marvelous particularity, and recounts one by one
the murders she had committed at his instigation, O
when she breaks out into this passionate exclama
tion Alace I deserve not to be sitting hier, for I
:
"

have done so manie evill deedis, especially killing of


men, I deserve to be rievin upon irin harrowes, and
worse if it could be devisit To the horror of
!
"

"Master Harie Forbes," he was himself the


subject
of these terrible incantations. His life was attempt
ed several times.
Margaret Brodie shot at Mr. Harie Forbes at
"

the standing-staues, but she missed, and speirit if


she should shoot again ? And the devil said, N"ot !

for we Avoid nocht get his lyfe at that tyme. We


5G JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

intcritit several tymes for him quhan he was seik.


Bessie Hay, Jean Martin the maiden, Bessie Wilson,
Margaret Brodie, Elspeth Ncshie, and I myself, met
in Bessie Wilsones hows, and maid an bag against
him. The bag was maid of the flesh, guttis, and
gallis of toadis, theliewer of an hear, pickles of
corn, and pairingis of naillis of fingers and toes.
We steepit all night among water. The divill
learned us to saye the wordis following at the mak
ing of the bag :

"

He is lying on his bedel, and he is seik and sair,


Let him ly intill that budd monethes two and dayes thrie mair.
He sal ly intill his bedd, he sal be seik and sair,
He sal ly intill his bedd monethes two and dayes thrie mair.

And quhan we haid said thes wordis, we wer al on


our kneyis, our hair abowt our shoulderis and eyes,
holding up our handis to the divill that it might
destroy the said Mr. Haric. It was intendit that
we, coming into his chalmer in the night-tym, sould
swing it on him. And becaus we prevailed not at
that tym, Bessie Hay undertook and cam into his
chalmer to wisit him, being werie intimat with him,
and she brought in of the bag in her handis full of
the have swowng and casten droppis
oil thereof, to

of on him but there were some uther worthie


it ;

persons with him at the tym, by quhich God pre


vented Bessie Hay that she gat no harm don to
him, but swang a litl of it on the bed quhair he
*
lay."

The confessions conclude with a minute account


* Isabell Gowdie s fourth confession.
THE CAMPDEN WONDEE. 57

of making the image of a child of clay It wanted :


"

110 mark of the image of a bairn, eyes, nose, mouth,


litle lippes, and the hands of it folded down by its

sydis."

Whilst the clay which formed the image was


kneaded, the devil sat on a black kist," and Isabell
"

and her companions chanted the following rhyme :

"

We put this water among this meall,


For long dwying and ill heall ;

We put it in intill the fyr,


To burn them up both stik and stour,
That he burnt with our will,
As onie stikill on an kill."

This image represented the child of the Laird of


"As it was rosted eche other
Parkis, day at the
fyr, som tymes on pairt of it, somtymes another,
the bairn would be burnt and rosten, even as it
was." Each day we wold water it, and then rost
"

and bak and turn it at the fyr, each other day,


it,

till that bairn died, and then


lay it up, and steired
it not until the next bairn was borne; and then

within half an yeir efter that bairne was borne, we


would take it out of the cradle, and bak it and rost
itat the fyr, until that bairn died also.*
All this and a great manie mor terrible things
"

the said witnesses and notar heard the said Isabell


confes, and most willingly and penitently speak
furth of her own mouth."

The record imperfect, but there seems no


is

reason to doubt that Isabell Gowdie and Janet


Breadheid suffered at the stake.
* Confession of Janet Breadheid. See Pitcairn s Criminal Trials,
iii, app. vii.
58 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

The conviction of guilt was impressed upon their


minds us vividly asit was upon that of John Perry,

nor can we wonder at the eagerness with which


Master Ilarie Forbes and his confederates pursued
these unhappy women to the death. Sir George
Mackenzie observes, that in these cases "

the accus
ers are masters or neighbors who had their children
dead, and are engaged by grief to suspect these
poor creatures. I knew" (he says) "one burnt
because a lady was jealous of her with her husband ;

and the crime is so odious that they are never


assisted or defended by their relations. The Avit--

nesses and assizes are afraid that if they escape they


will die for and therefore they take an unwarrant
it,

able latitude. And I have observed that scarce


ever any who were accused before a country assize
^
of neighbors did escape that trial."
Weare past the age for belief in witchcraft, but
the diseased imagination which formerly manifested
itself in the wild delusions of poor Isabell Gowdie,
now forms for itself a creation far more dangerous,
because its phantoms arc reconcilable with the
ordinary experience of the world. Within the last
two years the courts at Westminster were occupied
for many days in the investigation of a charge of a
most serious nature, brought against a physician by
the husbaiid of one of his patients.f The lady kept
a journal, in which she noted down with the utmost
minuteness the rise, progress, and entire history of

* Mackenzie s Works, ii, 87.

t Robinson v. llobinson and Lane ;


Divorce Court, June 11, 1858, to
March 2, 1859. See Times, July 6, 1858.
THE CAMPDEX WOXDER. 59

an overwhelming and passionate attachment be


tween herself and the doctor. This journal came to
the husband s hands. The explosion may be imag
ined. The husband very naturally instituted pro
ceedings for a divorce. When the trial came on,
the journal, consisting of three bulky volumes, and
extending over a period of five years, was produced.
Nothing could be clearer, more explicit, or more
astounding, than the disclosures it contained. But
there was not a particle of confirmatory evidence to
support any one of them and it was established
;

beyond a doubt that the lady, though apparently


conducting herself like other people, and giving no
external sign of disordered intellect, was upon this
particular subject altogether insane that the doctor
;

was innocent throughout the affair, and wholly un


conscious that he had for years been made the hero
of a romance rivaling the adventures of Faublas.
This disease sometimes assumes a form even more
dangerous than that of self-accusation. A crime is
committed, or supposed to have been committed.
The details of an inquiry of an exciting nature fill
the columns of the press. Presently the imagina
tion fastens upon the circumstances as they are

gradually revealed, and the unfortunate patient


fancies that he has been a witness of the whole
transaction, comes forward believing that he is dis
charging an imperative duty, and with all the clear
ness, coolness, and certainty which characterize
truth, depones to the creation of his heated brain.
A case of this kind occurred at the winter assizes
at Stafford, in the year 1857.
60 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

The body of a girl named Elizabeth Hopley was


found in the canal at Bradley, early on the morning
of the 30th of April. There were no marks of vio
lence. About ten o clock on the previous evening
she had left the house of her aunt for the purpose
of going to the place where a young man, to whom
she was engaged to be married, was in the habit of
working. Her road led past the place where her
body was found, and it was supposed that, dazzled
by the light of some coke-fires, she had missed her
way, and fallen over the low wall by which the canal
was, at that spot, very insufficiently guarded. About
three weeks, however, after the girl s death, a neigh
bor, of the name of Samuel Wall, declared that
Elizabeth Hopley had been murdered, and that he
had been present when the crime was committed.
A day or two afterwards he was summoned before
the magistrates, when he told the following story.
lie said that on the night of the 29th of April he
was on duty as a private watchmen on some prem
isesnear a bridge which crossed the railway that ;

liesaw two persons, a man and a woman, on the


bridge, and heard a woman s voice say, "Philip,
don t kill me You said you would kill me before
! !
"

That the man then raised his hand and struck the
woman a violent blow on the head, which knocked
her down. Upon this he went up, and instantly
recognized the man as one Philip Clare, whom lie

well knew. He exclaimed, Philip, you ll have


"

to
Clare turned round and replied,
"

suffer for this !

If you speak, I ll serve you the same Clare


"
"

then lifted the young woman up from the ground,


THE CAMPDEX

and, followed by Wall, carried her over the railway


bridge, and down a road past some cottages, until
he came to the canal. Here he paused, and turning
round again upon Wall, said, Xow, if you speak "

or tell any one, I will kill you. I will serve you


the same way as I served her, and set some one else
to watch instead." He then, in Wall s presence,
plunged the woman, who still seemed helpless and
insensible, into the canal, close to the spot where,
the next morning, her body was discovered.
Wall fixed the time when this occurred as twenty
minutes after midnight ; and it must be remarked
that he was employed as a watchman, and was like
ly to be habitually observant of the time.
He said that he returned to his employer s prem
ises, being prevented by his fear of Clare from giv

ing any alarm that after about a quarter of an


;

hour had elapsed, Clare came to him and renewed


his threats,
when, terrified by the apprehension of
immediate violence, he locked himself up in the
engine-house until daylight.
Upon this statement, Clare was taken into cus
tody, and committed for trial. At his trial Wall
repeated the story he had told the magistrates.
There was a total absence of confirmation. It was
met by proof that the body showed no sign of hav
ing received any blow of the kind described by
Wall that there had been men at work
;
pumping
water during the whole night in the immediate
neighborhood, who must, in all probability, have
heard something, had the affair taken place as Wall
described. It was shown, moreover, that from half-
PTZZLES 6.
62 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

past six nntil about eleven P. M., Clare had been in


a public-house at Bilston, which he left, in company
with four other men, one of whom accompanied
him till within half a mile of his own house. An
other witness, a neighbor, proved that about twelve
o clock he met Clare, and entered into conversation
with him near his own door that they remained
;

together until two o clock next morning. There


could not be the slightest doubt of Clare s inno
cence, and the jury, of course, at once acquitted
him. Nor could there be any doubt that Wall be
lieved the story told. The minuteness, the particu
larity, the graphic details, the conversation, all bear
the stamp of that subjective truth, which our lan
guage has no word to distinguish from objective
truth. It is curious to observe in how many res

pects this case resembles that of John Perry. In


both there was a period of incubation, during which
the mind brooded in silence over its creations in ;

both the accuser professed to have been present, and


thus a participant, though in different degrees, in
the crime. In both the conversations with the sup
posed murderer are minutely detailed in both the
;

tale is solemnly repeated, consistently, and without

variation, at considerable intervals of time, and sub


ject to the test of judicial examination.
A case even more remarkable occurred shortly
before the one we have just referred to.
A gentleman of high social position instituted pro
ceedings against his wife with the view of obtaining
a divorce.
The innocence of the lady was strongly asserted
THE CAMPDEN WONDER. 63

and firmly believed. Counter-charges of conspiracy


and perjury were brought against the husband and his
witnesses. The lady herself was in a state of dis
ordered intellect, produced, as was asserted, by the
conduct of the husband, which precluded her from
taking any part, or affording any assistance towards
her own defense, which, however, was vigorously
maintained by friends who were firmly convinced
that she was wholly innocent. The inquiry lasted
for nearly four years, and at length reached the
House of Lords, where the case on behalf of the
husband had just terminated when Parliament rose
for the Easter recess.
On the House reassembling, there appeared at the
bar an elderly and respectable-looking clergyman,
who, to the surprise of every one, deposed upon
oath that six or seven years before namely, in the
month of May or June, in the year 1849 or 50, he
could not say which he had been an actual eye
witness of the guilt of the lady. He swore that he
had never mentioned the circumstance during the
six or seven years that had elapsed but to one per

son, and that person was dead. He had permitted


his daughters and his sister to continue on terms of
intimacy with the lady whom he accused. He
was unable to fix the time of the occurrence, even
as to the year in which it took place, or to state who
was the partner in her guilt. Every avenue of con
tradiction off, and the story was left to
was thus cut
stand or according as the respectable character
fall,
and social position of the witness, and the apparent
conviction with which he told his story, or the im-
64 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

probable nature of that story itself, coupled with the


fact that during a most searching investigation, car
ried on by adverse parties with the utmost eager
ness for a period of between four and five years, no
circumstance which in the slightest degree corrobo
rated that story had ever come to light, might be
considered to be entitled to the greater weight. It
was not long, however, before the difficulty was
solved. Within a few months, the witness who had
given this extraordinary history gave himself up to
justice, declaring with every expression of contri
tion that he had been guilty of forging certain bills
of exchange, that they had nearly reached maturity,
that he had no means of providing for them, that de
tection was inevitable, and that he wished to antici
pate the blow, and make such reparation as was in
his power by a full acknowledgment of his guilt.

Upon investigation, turned out that there was not


it

the slightest foundation for this story no forgery ;

had been committed no such bills of exchange had


ever been in existence. His delusion as to his own
guilt was complete as his delusion as to that of
as
the lady againstwhom he had given evidence, over
whose strange history he had no doubt brooded for
years, until the thick-coming fancies of his brain as
sumed the form and appearance of substantive
creations.
Doctor Southwood Smith, in his "

Lcctiires on
Forensic Medicine," after observing how common
false sclf-inculpativc evidence is, gives some re
markable instances in Avhich it has occurred. Of
these the following is perhaps the most striking :
THE CAMPDEX WOXDEK. 65

"In the of the French Revolution the Iler-


war
mione frigate was commanded by Captain Pigot, a
harsh man and a severe commander. His crew mu
tinied, and carried the ship into an enemy s port,
having murdered the captain and many of the offi
cers under circumstances of extreme barbarity.
One midshipman escaped, by whom many of the
criminals, who were afterwards taken and delivered
over to justice one by one, were identified. Mr.
Finlaison, the Government actuary, who at that
time held an official situation at the Admiralty,
states In my own experience I have known, on
:

separate occasions, more than six sailors who volun


tarily confessed to having struck the first blow at
Captain Pigot. These men detailed all the horrid
circumstances of the mutiny with extreme minute
ness and perfect accuracy ; nevertheless, not one of
them had ever been in the ship, nor had so much
as seen Captain Pigot in their lives. They had
obtained, by from their messmates, the
tradition,
particulars of the story. When long on a foreign
station, hungering and thirsting for home, their
minds became enfeebled; at length they actually
believed themselves guilty of the crime over which
they had so long brooded, and submitted Avith a
gloomy pleasure to being sent to England in irons
for judgment. the Admiralty we were always
At
able to detect and establish their innocence, in defi
ance of their own solemn asseverations. * "

We are exhausting our space, though not the num


ber of instances of a similar description which lie

* London Medical Gazette, Jan., 1838.


66 JUDICIAL PUZZLES-

before us, and must content ourselves with one


more.
A magistrate of one of the northern counties of
England, well known for his active benevolence,
during the discharge of his duty as one of the visit
ing justices of the County Lunatic Asylum, entered
into conversation with one of the patients, and was
much struck with his rational demeanor and sensi
ble remarks. The man expressed himself grateful
for the kindness with which lie was treated, and
said that he was well aware that it was necessary
that he should be under restraint ;
that although he
was perfectly well at that time, he knew that he was
at any moment liable to a return of the insanity,

during an attack of which he had some years before


murdered his wife arid that it would be unsafe to
;

permit him to go at large. He then expressed the


deepest contrition for his crime and after some ;

further conversation the magistrate left him, not


doubting the truth of his story. Referring to the
case in conversation with the master of the asylum,
he expressed much interest, and referred to the
patient as that unhappy criminal lunatic who had
"

murdered his wife when to his astonishment, he


";

was informed that the wife was alive and well, and
had been to visit her husband only the day before !

We cannot conclude our observations on this


interesting subject better than in the words of the
old jurist Heincccius * Confession is sometimes
:
"

the voice of conscience. Experience, however,


teaches us that it is frequently far otherwise. There
* Exer. 18, G.
THE CAMPDEN WONDEB. 67

sometimes under the shadow of an apparent


lurks,
tranquillity, an insanity which impels men readily to
accuse themselves of all kinds of iniquity. Some,
deluded by their imaginations, suspect themselves
of crimes which they have never committed. A

melancholy temperament, the tcedium vitce, and an


unaccountable propensity to their own destruction,
urges some to the most false confessions; whilst
they were extracted from others by the dread of
torture, or the tedious misery of the dungeon. So
far is it from being the fact that all confessions are
to be attributed to the stings of conscience, that it
has been well said by Calphurnius Flaccus, Even a
voluntary confession is to be regarded with sus
picion and by Quintilian, a suspicion of insanity
;
"

is inherent in the nature of all confessions.


in.

THE AXXESLEY CASE.

When the captain of the G-reat Britain ran that


unfortunate vessel on to the sands of Dundrum Bay,
it was urged in his excuse that so many marvelous

tales are told about Ireland, that he was justified


in concluding that no obstacle lay in his road from
the Isle of Man to New York that Dublin was as
;

fabulous as Blef uscu ; and that the Mourne mount


ains had no more real existence than the loadstone
hill which proved fatal to the ship of Sindbad. The
story weare about to tell might almost justify such
incredulity; yet it is only one of many equally
strange and equally well authenticated.
In the year 1706, Arthur Lord Althain, a needy
and dissolute Irish peer, married Mary Sheffield, an
illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Buckingham.
They lived together for three years ; but in 1709
Lord Althani went to Ireland, leaving his wife in
England, where she remained until 1713, when she
joined her husband in Dublin. From that tune un
til 1716 they resided together, principally at Dun-

maine, in the neighborhood of Ross, in the county of


Wexford. In 1716 they separated, under circum
stances which we shall presently have occasion to
more minutely, and never met again. In 1717
notice
Lord Altham died, and was succeeded in his title
[69]
70 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

and estates by his brother, Richard Anncsley, who


remained in undisturbed possession of both for a per
iod of thirteen years. Lady Altham survived her
husband for about two years, which were passed in
sickness and poverty, but docs not appear ever to
have taken any step to prevent Richard Annesley te

assumption of the character of heir to her husband,


to Avhich, of course, he would have had no title if she
had a son living at the time of Lord Altham s death.
In the year 1739, however, a young man of about
four-and-twenty years of age made his appearance
in the fleet which, under the command of Admiral
Vernon, was lying off Porto-Bello. lie called him
self James Annesley, stated that lie was a son of
Lord Altham, that he had been educated and ac
knowledged as such son until he was nine or ten
years of age; that upon the death of his father lie
had been kidnapped and sold for a slave in America ;

that lie had passed thirteen years in servitude, and


at last (after a series of romantic and not very credi
ble adventures, which have nothing to do with our

present subject) had effected his escape. Admiral


Vernon furnished him with the means of proceed
ing to England, where he arrived shortly afterwards.
On his arrival in England he went to lodge at
Staincs, in the neighborhood, of Windsor, and here
a circumstance occurred which had no doubt a con
siderable effect on the subsequent proceedings. One
of his associates, a man of the name of Redding, was

gamekeeper to Sir John Dolbin, the lord of the


manor. One morning James Anncsley was out.with
a gun shooting small birds, when Redding called
THE AXNESLEY CASE. 71

him to assist in capturing a net with which a man


of the name of Egglestone was fishing in the river ;
Annesley s gun unfortunately went off in the scuffle,
and mortally wounded Egglestone. There could be
little doubt that the discharge of the gun was pure

ly accidental; but Lord Anglesea (for Richard,


Lord Altham, had in the meantime succeded to that
title also) seized the opportunity to destroy, as he

thought, the claimant of his title and estates. He


instituted a prosecution against James Annesley for
murder ; he was prodigal of money and promises
amongst the witnesses; and he declared that he
would willingly give ten thousand pounds to get
him hanged. The jury at the Old Bailey acquitted
Annesley, and Lord Anglesea s machinations re
coiled upon himself for there can be no doubt that
;

they greatly influenced both the court and jury


against him on the subsequent trial.
On the llth of November, 1743, the trial for the
recovery of the estates came on in the Court of Ex
chequer in Dublin. It lasted fifteeen days, and
above ninety witnesses were examined. The issue
between the parties was of the simplest and boldest
character. On the one hand, it was asserted that,
in the spring of the year 1715, Lady Altham had
been delivered at Dunmaine of a son and heir that
;

all the
customary solemnities and rejoicings had
taken place that the child was uniformly acknowl
;

edged and treated both by Lord and Lady Altham


as their son ;
that he was shown and spoken of as
such to visitors and friends that when the separa
;

tion between his parents took place, the mother


72 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

passionately entreated that she might be permitted


to take the child with her,which the father refused,
keeping the boy and educating him as the heir to
his title and estates. On the other hand, it was
denied that Lady Altham ever had a child at all.
It was asserted that the very ground of the separa
tion between herself and her husband was the dis
comfort and disappointment occasioned by her
bearing no heir that it was known to every relation
;

and visitor, to every servant in the house, that Lady


Altham never had a child that the servant who
;

had attended her from her arrival in Dublin to the


hour of her death, who had dressed and undressed
her every morning and evening, and had never been
absent for more than one single week during the
whole of that period, was living, and would prove,
not only that no child ever was born, but that there
never was the slightest chance or probability that
Lady Altham would have a child. It is impossible
to conceive a simpler issue, or one which might be

supposed to be easier for conclusive proof one way


or the other yet two juries came to diametrically
;

opposite conclusions, and so positive is the testi


mony on each side, that it seems even now, after
carefully reading the contradictory evidence which
is preserved in upwards of five hundred columns of

the State Trials, to be impossible to arrive at any


satisfactory result.
It is to be observed that the question raised by
this issue was not one of personation or disputed

identity. If Lady Altham ever had a son, it was


virtually admitted that James Annesley was that
THE A3TNT3SLEY CASE. 73

son. Nor was the case one of concealed or doubt


ful marriage, or obscure birth, such as have fre

quently occupied the courts. From the arrival of


Lady Altham in Ireland until her separation from
her husband, a period of about three years, they re
sided publicly together, kept a large establishment
of servants, and visited and associated with persons
of the most various rank and position in the neigh
borhood. It seems incredible that any dispute
should ever have arisen upon a point so easy of
proof as whether persons of their rank, and so cir
cumstanced, had or had not a child and as we read
;

the evidence adduced, the testimony on the one side


seems absolutely conclusive, until it is met by con
tradictory evidence, to all appearance equally con
clusive, on the other.
The household at Dunmaine was large and disor
derly, consisting of sixteen or seventeen servants,
from the English housekeeper, who was sent over "

by my lady," and who rejoiced in the appropriate


name of Mrs. Settright,"
"

down to Smutty, the


"

dog-boy, who was very ugly." Poor Smutty ! im


mortalized by his ugliness. He shows his ill-favored
countenance for a moment, and disappears into
utter obscurity. Lord Altham had about him, also,
a number of hangers-on and humble companions ;
but, besides these, he associated with gentlemen of
his own rank and position and one of the first wit
;

nesses called on behalf of the claimant, was a Major


Richard Fitzgerald.
The Major deposed that in the year 1715 he was
in the town of Ross, having had occasion to go
PUZZLES -7.
74 JUDICIAL PFZZLES.

there on account of some business arising from the


death of his uncle, a Mr. Pigott, who lived in the
county of Wexford. In Ross he met Lord Altham,
who invitedhim to dinner. The Major excused
himself, he was engaged to dine with some
as
brother officers but Lord Altham said deponent
;
"

must dine with him, and come to drink some groan


ing drink, for that his wife was in labor. Deponent
told him that was a reason he ought not to go but ;

Lord Altham would not take an excuse, and sent


the deponent word the next day to Ross, that his
wife was brought to bed of a son; and the deponent
went to Dunmaine and dined there, and had some
discourse about the child, and Lord Altham swore
that the deponent should see his son, and accord
ingly the nurse brought the child to deponent, and
deponent kissed the child, and gave half a guinea
to the nurse and some of the company toasted the
;

heir-apparent to Lord Anglesea at dinner. That


this was the day after the child was born and de
:

ponent says that he left the country the next day,


and went to the county of Waterford, to his own
house at Prospect Hall. Says deponent saw the
woman to whom he gave the half-guinea, this day
of his examination that he remembers her well,
;

because he took notice of her when he gave her the


half-guinea, that she was very handsome that he
;

did not stay at Dunmaine that night, but came to


Ross at nightfall, and was attacked in the road by
robbers; that he crossed the ferry on his return
home j remembers that Lord Altham was in high
THE AXXESLEY CASE. /O

spiritswith the thoughts of having a son and heir." *


It seems impossible to add to the force of this

testimony. attempt was made to impeach the


N"o

character or credibility of the witness. Everything


concurred to fix the time and circumstances in his
mind mistake appears impossible
: .
;
and no motive
isassignable for willful falsehood. Nor is the evi
dence given by the next witness less conclusive. John
Turner was seneschal to Lord Anglesea. He had
lived at Dunmaine for ten years; he had visited
Lord Altham; and soon after his own marriage,
which took place in December, 1714, he observed
appearance of pregnancy in Lady Altham. He
says that the next time he saw Lady Altham she
told him she had a son that he afterwards saw the
;

boy, and had him in his arms at Dunmaine when he


was about a year and half old that Lady Altham;

led the child across the parlor, and Lord Altham


kissed him and called him Jemmy that he saw
"
"

the child subsequently at Ross, and afterwards at


Kinnay and Carrickduff, after the separation be
tween Lord and Lady Altham, when he was treated
by his father in all respects as his legitimate son ;

that in the year 1722, meeting Lord Altham at a


tavern in Dublin, the boy was sent for, and Lord
Altham said to deponent, You were seneschal to
"

Earl Arthur and Earl John, and you may be senes


chal to the child." f
During the eight-and-twenty years that had elaps
ed between the birth of the child in 1715 and the
trial in 1743, it was to be expected that many of
* State
Trials, xvii, 1153. t Ibid, xvii, 1151.
76 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

those whose evidence would have been most valu


able should have died amongst them were those
;

who stood sponsors for the child at its baptism;


Mr. Colclough, Mr. Cliff, and Mrs. Pigott, members
of families holding high positions in the county
still

of Wexford; but the fact of the christening, the


rejoicings that took place, the bonfires and festiv
ities, were proved by servants who lived in the house
at the time, and proved repeatedly and consistently.
It is impossible within the narrow limits of an
article to give even an outline of the evidence of
the fifty witnesses who were called to substantiate
the claimant s case. It would seem almost needless
to strengthen the evidence ofMajor Fitzgerald and
John Turner. Every conceivable confirmation,
however, was given. Friends of Lord Altham
swore to conversations with him, in which he had
spoken in the most open manner of his son, and of
the disappointment of his brother s expectations of
being Witnesses were produced who had
his heir.
been present and assisting at the birth of the child ;

and it is very remarkable that, although these wit


nesses were drawn from every rank of life, no
successful attempt was made to impeach the credi

bility ofany of them, nor was any inconsistency to


be discovered in their testimony further than might
be satisfactorily accounted for by the long period
thathad elapsed between the events to which they
spoke and the time when they gave their evidence.
We now come, however, to the most remarkable
conflict of testimony which occurs in the Avhole
case. A woman of the name of Joan Laff an was
THE ANXESLEY CASE. 77

called. She deposed that she entered Lord


Altham s service m
1715; that she was em
ployed as nurse-maid to attend on the child as
soon as he came from the wet-nurse ; that he was
at that time three or four months old, and was in
her charge for about a year and a half that he was ;

treated in all respects as their child by both Lord


and Lady Altham, who showed great fondness for
him, and into whose bedroom she was in the habit
of bringing the child in the morning.
She then gave an account of the separation be
tween Lord and Lady Altham. "It
was," she said,
"

on account of Tom Palliser."


"

My lord had laid


a plot against him, and on one Sunday morning

pretended to lady that he was obliged to go out


my
to dinner. That Mr. Palliser breakfasted with my
lord, and they had a bottle of mulled wine for
breakfast. As soon as my lord was gone out, Mr.
Palliser went into my lady s room, and the plot

having been laid before, a signal was made that


brought my lord back that my lord ran up with
;

his sword, and had him brought out of the room,


and the groom came to Palliser and said to him, Is
this the way you keep my lady company ? and took
out a case-knife in order to cut his nose, but he
was ordered only to cut his ear. That deponent
was standing by in the room, and she had the child
in her hand, and he showed her the blood out of
Palliser s ear ; it was the soft part of the ear that

was cut, and the child poitried at the blood that came
out * The same witness
of the ear"
deposed that
* State Trials, xvii, 1280.
78 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

she was present when my lord and lady parted


"

that she saAv my lady at the door with the child in


her arms ; that my lord came out of the house in a
great rage, and asked where his child was, and upon
being told that he was with his mother, he ran up
to her and snatched the child out of her arms that ;

my lady "begged very hard she might take the child


along with her, but my lord swore he would not part
with the child upon any consideration ; that my
lady, finding she could not prevail, burst out a
crying, and begged that she might at least give the
child one parting kiss ; that my lord with some dif
ficulty consented, and my lady drove away to
Ross."
*
Such is Joan Laffan s story, and we must keep in
mind that at a subsequent period it was confirmed
by another witness f but in the meantime, let us
;

turn to Palliscr account of the same transaction.


s

He stated that when he was very young he spent


much of his time at Dunmaine, which was within
about three miles of his father s residence, and used
to ride Lord Alt-ham s horses hunting. That one
day, as they were returning home, Lord Altham told
him that he was determined to part with his lady ;

and upon deponent asking him his reasons, my


s

lord replied, "I find Lord Anglcsea will not be in

friendship with me while I live with this woman,


and since I have no child by her I will part loitJi
lier^ Palliscr then gives an account, in all material

circumstances, the same as Joan Laffan s, of his being


entrapped by Lord Altham into his wife s room and
* State Trials, xvii, 1108, 1170. tlbicl, 94.
THE ANNESLEY CASE. 79

falsely accused of being there for an improper pur


pose ; he takes off his wig and shows the jury where
his ear was
solemnly asseverates the innocence
cut,
of declares not only that no
Lady Altham, and
child was present upon that occasion, but that he
"

neveq
saw a child in the house" Upon this the
court, apprehending that there was some contradic
"

tion between the evidence of Palliser and that of Joan


Laffan," as indeed they well might, ordered Laf-
t

fan to be recalled, and the two witnesses to be con


fronted. Each repeated the story, each was equally
clear, distinct, and positive. We have said that
Joan Laffan s evidence was subsequently confirmed
by another witness, who deponed to having been

present at the parting of Lady Altham and her


child. The same is. however, the case with the tes
timony of Palliser, which was confirmed by Mary
Heath, Lady Altham s woman, who went with her
in the carriage to Boss, and who swore, most posi

tively, that no such child ever was in existence. It


is to be observed that Palliser and Laffan agree
O
that the charge against Lady Altham was false;
that Laffan attributes the plot to the revenge of the
servants, on account of some mischievous boyish
tricks which had been played upon them by Palliser ;
whilst Palliser himself attributes it to the deeper
and more probable motive of a determination on the
part of Lord Altham to get rid of a wife from whom
he hoped for no heir a motive which we have seen
give rise to some of the darkest domestic tragedies
that have disgraced humanity. The case, however,
is beset with difficulties on all sides for if we are ;
80 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

to accept the evidence of Palliscr as true, the inev


itable consequence follows, that we must hold, not

only Joan Laffan, but Major Fitzgerald, Turner,


and many, indeed most, of the fifty witnesses called
on behalf of the claimant, and who swore positively
to the existence of the child, to have been deliber

ately perjured.
After the separation Lady Altham went to reside
at Ross,and subsequently removed to Dublin. Her
circumstances were extremely narrow, and her
health bad, but she was faithfully attended until
her death, which took place in October, 1729, by
Mary Heath. From her first arrival in Ireland, in
1713, a period of sixteen years, with the exception
of a single week, this woman was never absent from
her. While she resided at Dunmaine, Heath dressed
her every morning and undressed her every night ;

and this witness swore, in the most distinct and


positive manner, that she never
had a child. It

seems to be enough to shake one s confidence in all

human testimony to find evidence so clear, distinct,


and unimpeachable, on each side to be compelled
;

to admit that on one side or the other there must


the most willful and deliberate perjury, and yet
l>e

to feel it impossible to say on Avhich side perjury


exists.
Lord Altham removed, shortly after his separa
tion from his wife, to a place called Kinnay, in the
county of Kildare, and the issue now assumes
a dif
ferent aspect. It is admitted that there was a child
at Kinnay; that he was put to school by Lord

Altham, and treated as part of his family but it is


;
THE ANNESLEY CASE. 81

contended that he was the illegitimate child of Lord


Altham, by a woman of the name of Joan Landy,
who had been a servant in the house at Dunmainc,
and that he had been brought to the house subse
quently to Lady Altham s departure.
In the earlier part of the case the claimantis met

with the general denial Lady Altham never had a


sou. Prove that she had, and we will admit you to
be that son. In the latter part, the defendant says
in substance I admit that, during Lord Altham s
residence at Kinnay, there was a boy who passed as
his son. I admit that you are that boy but you ;

are not the heir of Lord Altham, but his illegitimate


son by Joan Landy.
The whole of the evidence, therefore, changes its
character :when Mary Heath swears that her mis
tress never had a child, whilst Eleanor Murphy
swears that both she and Heath were present at the
birth, one or the other must be perjured. But Lord
Altham might use expressions as to "

little Jemmy,"
which one witness might understand as being a dis
tinct declaration of his legitimacy, and another
might think only conveyed the expression of his af
fection for his natural child.

During the
first period the existence of the child

isdenied ; during the second it is admitted ; and


we shall now proceed to follow the fortunes of the
boy, waiving for the present the question of who
was his mother.
Lord Altham, after his separation from his wife,
formed a connection with one Miss Gregory, who
seems to have exercised an unbounded influence

OF THB
UNTVP.T^QTT V
82 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

over him. After a short time poor" Jemmy" was


turned out to wander in rags about the streets of
Dublin. Here, however, he met with friends: a
good-natured student in Trinity College, of the
name of Bush, clothed and fed him, and employed
him to run errands, till his grandfather told him it
was not fit he should have a lord for his servant,
when he was turned out upon the world again. He
was next taken charge of by an honest butcher
named Purcell, who took him home and brought
him up with his own son. Purcell tells the court
that whilst "

the boy was in his house, a gentleman


(who was then called Richard Annesley, and is the
now defendant, the Earl of Anglesea) came to de
ponent s house and asked if one Purcell did not live

there, and said he supposed they sold liquors that ;

the gentleman had a gun in his hand, and sat down,


and having called for a pot of beer, asked deponent
if he had a
boy in his house called James Annes
ley ? To which deponent answered that there was
such a boy in the house, and called his wife and
told her that a gentleman wanted to see the boy ;

says that the child was sitting by the fireside, and


immediately saw Mr. Richard Annesley, though he
could not see the child by reason of the situation
where he sat says the child trembled and cried,
;

and was greatly affrighted, saying, That is my un


cle Dick says that when the child was shown to
;

the defendant, he said to Jemmy, How do you do ?


That the child made his bow, and replied, Thank
God, very well. That the defendant then said,
Don t you know me ? Yes, said the child, you
THE A2TOESLEY CASE. 83

are my uncle Annesley. That thereupon the de


fendant told the deponent that the child was the
son of Lord Altham, who lived at Inchcore; to
which deponent replied, I wish, sir, you would
*
speak to his father to do something for him.
"

The child s fear of his uncle was not without


good cause. About three weeks after Lord Al-
tham s death, Richard Annesley came a second
time to seek for the child, and desired it should be
sent to one Jones in the market. Purcell suspect
ed mischief. The honest butcher shall tell his story
in his own words Then deponent took a cudgel
:
"

in one hand, and the child in the other, and went


to the said Jones s house, when he saw the present
Earl of Anglesea, (who was then in mourning) with
a constable and two or three other odd-looking fel
lows attending about the door that deponent took ;

off his hat, and saluted my lord, which he did not


think proper to return but as soon as he saw the
;

child in the deponent s hands, he called to a fellow


that stood behind deponent s back, and said to him,
4
Take up that thieving son of a (meaning the ,

child) and carry him to the place I bid you. After


some more language of the same kind from his
lordship, the deponent said, My lord, he is no
thief you shall not take him from me
; whoever ;

offers to take him from me I ll knock his brains


out then deponent took the child (who was trem
;

bling with fear) and put him between his f legs."

Some high words passed, but the butcher was


true to his trust the lord and the constable sneak-
;

* State
Trials, xvii. 1201. t Ibid, xvii, 1202.
84 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

eel off,and the child was carried back in safety.


He was not long so fortunate. Fear of a repetition
of the attempt to capture him induced him, very

foolishly, to leave his friend the butcher. He then


took refuge in the house of a Mr. Tigh but it was:
;

not long before the emissaries of his uncle dis


covered his retreat, forced him into a boat, and on
board a ship bound for Philadelphia, which sailed
on April, 1728. His uncle himself placed him in
the ship, and returned to Dublin, thinking, no
doubt, that he had heard the last of him. All the
details of this nefarious transaction are given with
the utmost minuteness, and without shame or hesi
tation, by the very agents who were employed in it.
The share which Lord Anglesca took in the abduc
tion of his brother s child is hardly disputed. The
contention is confined to the point that the child
was illegitimate. The villany of the act seems
never to have struck any of the parties concerned.
But this act appears to us to turn the wavering
balance of evidence against Lord Anglesca. If this
boy were really the son of Joan Landy, it could not
bo difficult for Lord Anglesea to procure proof of
that fact whilst the events were so recent, whilst
Lady Altham was still living, and when he had
himself, by common consent, been admitted to the
title and
estates of his brother. If, on the other

hand, he knew that the boy was his brother s legit


imate son, he had the strongest interest to remove
him out of the way before any inquiries could be
made, and whilst he was in the obscurity into which
his father had permitted him to fall.
THE AXXESLEY CASE. 85

Yet a suspicion, almost equally strong, against


s case, would seem, to arise
the truth of the claimant
from the fact that John Landy was living, and yet
was never called.
The claimant s story was, that this woman was
his nurse; that her own child, which was a few
months older than himself, had died, when he was
four or five years old, of small-pox. could beWho
so valuable a witness for the claimant as this
woman? Yet she was never examined, nor was
her absence ever satisfactorily accounted for. If it
is argued that she might have been called by either
side that it was equally open to the defendant to
produce her to negative, as to the claimant to pro
duce her to support the story it may be answered,
that she could hardly be expected to come forward
to denounce her own son as an impostor. The
non-production of a witness, who must have im
portant evidence in her power, who was naturally
the witness of the claimant, and whose absence is
not satisfactorily accounted for, throws the gravest
suspicion upon his whole case. To what conclu
sion, then, can we come? The jury, after a con
sultation of about two hours, found for the claimant.

They must therefore have considered Heath, Pallis-


er, Rolph, and the other witnesses who swore to
the non-existence of the child, to haA^e perjured
themselves. The plaintiff appears to have been
disposed to follow up his victory, for an indictment
for perjury was at once preferred against Mary
Heath. The same evidence was repeated; Joan
Laffan was again examined. But the jury found
PUZZLES 8.
80 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

her "

Not guilty." They must therefore have con


sidered that Laffan, and all those who swore to

Lady Altham having had a child, had been guilty


of the crime of which they acquitted Heath. James
Anncsley does not appear to have taken any further
steps to obtain possession of the estates and honors
to which the decision of the jury had established
his title. He died at Blackheath on the 2d of
January, 1760. His uncle, Richard Anneslcy, Lord
Anglesea, closed his career of profligacy and cruelty
twelve short months afterwards. James Annesley
left a son, who died an infant, and a daughter, who

married, and whose children died young. Thus his


line became extinct, and his rights, whatever they

were, reverted to his uncle. Such was the termin


ation of the Annesley Case," memorable for the
"

dark mystery in which it must forever remain


shrouded, and for the curious picture which it
affords of the manners and habits of life that pre
vailed little more than a hundred years before our
own day.
IV.

ELIZA FENXING.

Immediately adjoining to High Holborn, and


of Red Lion Square,
parallel with the southern side
runs a long, narrow, gloomy lane, called Eagle
Street. Sickly children dabble in the gutters, and
gaze wistfully at the sugar-plums and hard-bake,
painfully suggestive of plaster of Paris
and cobbler s
wax, which are displayed in the windows of the bet
ter class of shops, in company with farthing prints
of theatrical characters, pegtops, battledores, and
other objects of attraction to the youth of London.
Vendors of tripe and and bottle deal
cats -meat, rag

ers,marine-store keepers merchants


;
who hold out
temptations in prose and verse, adorned with apo
plectic numerals, -to cooks and housemaids to pur
loin dripping, kitchen stuff, and old wearing apparel ;

barbers who "shave well for a halfpenny," shoe-

vampers, fried-fish sellers, a coal and potato dealer,


and a bird-stuffer, share the rest of the street with
lodging-houses of the filthiest description.
In the month of July, 1815, a remarkable scene
was witnessed in this lane. In a back room of the
house No. 14 ( since pulled down to make way for
Day & Martin s blacking manufactory ) the body of
a young woman, who had a few days before been
executed at Newgate for poisoning the family in
[87]
JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

which she was cook, with arsenic, was exhibited by


her parents to all comers. The street was filled
with crowds of compassionate or inquisitive gazers.
Money was freely given and readily received. This
extraordinary exhibition continued for five days.
On the 31st of July, a funeral procession wound its
way up Lamb s* Conduit Street, to the burial-
ground at the back of the Foundling Hospital. The
pall was borne by six young women robed in white.
Thousands of spectators ( it is stated, in the papers
of the day, as many as ten thousand ) followed the
coffin tothe grave, and crowded round as it was
lowered into the earth. It bore upon its lid these
words "Elizabeth Fenning, died July 26, 1815,
aged 22 years." From that day to this, the case of
Eliza Fenning has been cited as one in which an in
nocent person fell a victim to the hasty judgment
of a prejudiced and incompetent tribunal. Nor must
it be
supposed that this feeling has been confined to
an ignorant or angry populace. Sir Samuel Romilly
recorded his belief in her innocence. Curran was
in the habit of declaiming in glowing words on the

injustice of her fate ;


and even recently an able and
kind-hearted man, whose experience of criminal in
quiries was most extensive, and certainly not of a kind
to induce him lightly to assume the innocence of a
convicted felon, has told the story of Eliza Fenning,
and concludes his narrative in the folloAving words :

Poor Eliza Fenning So young, so fair, so innocent,


"

so sacrificed Cut down even in thy morning, witli


!

brightness only in its dawn Little did it


all life s !

profit theethat a city mourned over thy early grave,


JSLIZA FEXXIXG. 89

and that the most eloquent of men did justice to


*
thy memory."
On it must be remembered that
the other hand,
Fenning was defended by able counsel that after ;

her conviction the case was again investigated by the


law advisers of the Crown that the trial took place
;

on the llth of April, and the execution was delayed


until the 26th of July a period of more than three
months, during which tune every opportunity was
afforded for bringing forward any circumstance
that might tell in the prisoner s favor ; that the re
sult of this inquiry, the patience and impartiality of
which there seems to be no reasonable ground to
doubt, was a confirmation of the verdict of the jury.
Here then, we find the remarkable fact, that in a
case unattended by any of those circumstances
which would be likely to excite popular sympathy
on the one hand, or to pervert the judgment of the
ordinary tribunals on the other, there is a distinct
issue between the decision of the law and the ver
dict of public opinion. It speaks well both for the

people and for the tribunals by which justice is ad


ministered, that such a case is of extreme
rarity ;

and it is. an interesting and curious inquiry to ex


amine the facts from which it arises.
Eliza Fenning was cook in the family of a Mr.
Robert Gregsoii Turner, a law stationer in Chancery
Lane. The family consisted of Turner, his wife,
two apprentices named Gadsden and King youths
of seventeen or eighteen years of age, who lived in
the house a housemaid of the name of Sarah Peer,
* Vacation
Thoughts on Capital Punishments, by Charles Phillips;
p. 102.
90 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

and the prisoner. Turner s father, Mr. Orlibar


Turner, was a partner in the business, but resided
at Lambeth. On Tuesday, the 21st of March,
Orlibar Turner dined with his son and his daughter-
in-law. Part of the dinner consisted of some yeast
dumplings, of which all three partook. They had
hardly done so when they were attacked by violent
pain, accompanied by the symptoms of arsenical
poisoning. Soon afterwards, Gadsden, one of the
apprentices, who had dined at an earlier hour, came
into the kitchen, and finding the remains of the

dumplings, which had been brought down from the


parlor, ate a small piece, when he was attacked by
similar symptoms. The next sufferer was Eliza
Forming herself, who was taken ill in a like manner
later in the afternoon. Sarah Peer and King, the
other apprentice, who had dined earlier and did not
eat any part of the dumplings, escaped.
The first inquiry is, in what medium was the

poison conveyed?
All the persons who had partaken of the dump
lings were attacked in a greater or less degree.
The flour from which they were made was exam
ined, but no poison found; and Forming, Peer, and
King had dined on a pie, the crust from which was
made of the same flour, without any ill effects. The
poison, therefore, was not in the flour. Some sauce
had been served in a, boat separate from the dump
lings, and of this sauce Mr.
Orlibar Turner did not

partake, yet he was one of the sufferers. The poi


son, therefore, was not in the sauce; nor was it in
the yeast, the remains of which were also examined.
ELIZA FEXXIXG. 91

There was what would now be considered a most


unaccountable amount of carelessness in the exami
nation of the dumplings themselves; but the re
mains of the dough left in the pan in which they
were prepared was examined, and unquestionably
contained arsenic. Indeed, no reasonable ground
has ever been suggested for doubting that the poi
son was contained in the dumplings, and that it was
placed there by some one during their preparation.
The next inquiry is, how was the poison pro
cured ?
Mr. Turner had been in the habit of using arsenic
for the destruction of ratsand mice, .with which his
house was infested and the poison was kept with the
;

most culpable negligence. It lay in an open drawer


in the office, unlocked, and in which waste paper
was kept. It was urged that Fenning was in the
habit of taking paper from the drawer for the pur
pose of lighting the fire, and an inference was
sought to be drawn from that circumstance unfa
vorable to her. It is manifest that nothing could
be more groundless. The arsenic was no doubt ob
tained from the drawer the packet in wliich it was
kept having been missed a few days before but ;

there was not one particle of evidence, with regard


to the abstraction of the arsenic, affecting Fenuing
more than any other member of the family ; for to
that drawer all the persons in the house had easy
access.

Fenning had been in the service about seven


weeks. Soon after she entered it, her mistress ob
served some levity of conduct on her part towards
92 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

the apprentices, and reproved her severely for it,

threatening to discharge her but this passed over ;


;

and with this exception, she does not appear to


have had any discomfort or ground of ill-will against
her mistress, or any others of the family. look We
in vain, therefore, for any adequate motive for so
horrible a crime. We must now trace the few cir

cumstances, and they are very few, which the jury


considered sufficient to lead them to the conclusion
of the guilt of the prisoner.
On the morning of the 20th of
March, some yeast
Avas brought to the house
by the brewer
s man,

which had been ordered by Fcnning, without the


knowledge of her mistress, a day or>two before.
The yeast was received by Sarah Peer, the house
maid, who poured it into a white basin, and gave it
to Fenning. The remains of the yeast was after
wards examined, and found to be perfectly pure.
On Tuesday morning, the 21st of March, Mrs. Tur
ner went into the kitchen and gave Fenning direc
tions as to preparing the dumplings. Fenning
kneaded the dough, made the dumplings, was in
the kitchen the whole time until they were served
up to table, and during the greater part of that time
was there alone Mrs. Turner having left her soon
after giving her orders, and Sarah Peer, the house

maid, being engaged at her duties in other rooms.


Fenning, therefore, had ample opportunity to mix
the poison with the dumplings and it is difficult to
;

suppose that any other person could have meddled


with them without her being aware of the fact. In
deed, she herself stated that no other person had
ELIZA FEXXING. 93

anything to do with the dumplings.* On the re


mains of the dinner brought down into the kitchen,
Gadsden, as we have before stated, came in, and
seeing one of the dumplings, took up a knife and
fork and was going to eat it, when Penning ex
claimed, Gadsden, do not eat that it is cold and
"

heavy it will do you no good." Gadsden, in his


;

evidence, adds I ate a piece about as big as a wal


:
"

nut, or bigger. There was a small quantity of


sauce in the boat I took a bit of bread and sopped
:

it in it, and ate that." t Gadsden was taken ill


about ten minutes afterwards. He was not, how
ever, too ill to be sent for the elder Turner s wife,
Mrs. Margaret Turner. On her arrival, she found
her husband, son, and daughter-in-law extremely ill ;

and very soon afterwards Eliza Fenning herself was


attacked with similar symptoms. Here, then, we
find this curious fact all the persons who have

partaken of the dumplings at dinner are ill Gads :

den is warned by Feuning not to eat them he neg ;

lects the warning, and is almost immediately taken


ill in the same manner he is sent to Lambetli to
;

fetch Mrs. Margaret Turner and Fenning is not ;

taken ill until after her arrival. ConsideringO the dis-


tance from Chancery Lane to Lambeth, this must
have been a considerable interval. As the effects
of the poison (even when taken in so small a quantity
as by Gadsden) were almost immediate, it follows
thatFenning did not take it until some time after
thesesymptoms were apparent in the others, and
subsequent to the warning she gave Gadsden. This
* list Short-hancl copy of the Trial, 8 Ji Q.
!
Q. t
94 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

seems to dispose of the arguments in favor of her


innocence, which have been founded on the fact of
her having been herself a sufferer from, the poison.
What might be her motive is a matter involved in
great obscurity but there seems to be no doubt
;

that she took it, for some reason or other, after she
had seen its effects, and after she had seen cause to
warn Gadsden against the dumplings.
This very slender evidence is all that exists apart
from that which is derived from Fenning s own
statements, which we shall consider presently.
It amounts to little more than proof that Fen-

iiing might easily have committed the crime, and


that it is difficult to suppose that any other person
could. The poison was unquestionably in the dump
lings ; it was unquestionably placed there during
their preparation. Who
but Fcnning could have
done this ? But we now come to the consideration
of what appears to us to be by far the most import
ant evidence in the case namely, the statements
made by Eliza Fcnning herself.
Mrs. Turner the elder arrived at the house, as we
have seen, in the afternoon. She is asked whether
she had any conversation with Fcnning on the
subject :

"90th
Q. Did you say anything to her Avhilc
you were there that day respecting the dumplings ?
11
A. I exclaimed to her, Oh, these devilish
dumplings supposing they had done the mischief.
!

She said, Not the dumplinys, but the milk, madam.


I asked her, What milk ? she said, The halfpenny
worth of milk that Sally had fetched to make the
OF THB
UNIVERSITY
ELIZA

"

91st Q. Did she say who had made the sauce ?


"

A.
My daughter. I said, That cannot be it
could not be the sauce. She said, Yes Gadsden
;

ate a very little bit of dumpling, not bigger than a


nut, but licked up three parts of a boat of sauce
with a bit of bread.
"

During the whole of the next day, Fenning, in


reply to repeated inquiries, persisted that the poison
was in the milk which was fetched by Sarah Peer,
and used for the sauce that it was not in the dump ;

lings and that no one had mixed anything in the


;

dumplings, or had anything to do with them, but


herself. (Q. 69, 70, 71.)
We have already adverted to the fact that Mr.
Turner, who did not partake of the sauce, (94th Q.)
was as ill as any of the others. This is, of course,
conclusive of the fact that the poison was not in
the sauce, or at any rate, not in the sauce alone.
The arguments in favor of the innocence of Fen
ning have been almost entirely based on the fact that
she herself partook of the poisoned dumplings. As
we have already seen, she did not do this until after
the effects had been produced upon all the other
sufferers, and after shehad warned Gadsden that
the dumpling was cold and heavy, and would do
"

him no good." Now, in order to support the hy


pothesis of her innocence, it must be supposed that,
feeling certain that she had mixed no deleterious
dumplings, that no other person could
article in the
have done she eats a portion of them to prove
so,
her conviction of that fact otherwise, why, when ;

she had dined a short time before on beefsteak-pie,


96 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

should cat the "cold and heavy"


s"he
dumpling
which she had warned Gadsdcii not to meddle with ?
She is then immediately taken ill. Supposing she
were innocent, her first exclamation would have
been one of surprise. The dumplings are poison
"

ed who has done this ?


!
"

Instead of this, she seeks


to divert suspicion from the dumplings, and to cast
it upon the milk which had been fetched
by Sarah
Peer.
This ready falsehood, and attempt to divert the
suspicion which was pointing at her towards an in
nocent person, appears to us to afford strong evi
dence of her guilt and this evidence is strengthened
;

by the fact that even in her falsehood she was not


consistent. The next day, when she was taken into

custody, she changed her story. We


find no more
about the milk. She tells the constable that she
thinks the poison was in the yeast, that she saw a
red settlement in it. We have already stated
that
the remains of the yeast were examined, and nothing
whatever of a deleterious nature discovered. On
her trial she abandoned both these stories, and
confined herself to a general assertion of her inno
cence, in which she persisted on the scaffold.
Such, then, arc the facts proved in evidence in
the case of Eliza Penning. We
have purposely ab
stained from alluding to the utterly irrelevant mat
ter with which the papers of the day were filled.
On the one side, Eliza Penning was represented as
a paragon of beauty and virtue; on the other, as a,
monster of depravity and vice. There is not one
particle of reason for believing cither one statement
ELIZA FENXIXG. 97

or the other. Until she was charged with the crime


for which she suffered, she seems to have been very
much like any other commonplace servant of a some
what low class. Is there, then, evidence sufficient
to lead us, after a dispassionate consideration, to a
conclusion either one way or the other ? con We
fess that we think there is and the conclusion
;
at
which we arrive is, that Fenning was guilty.
By a process of exhaustion we arrive at the fact,
that was hardly possible that any person but
it

Fenning could have introduced the arsenic into the


dumplings. This, alone, would perhaps not justify
us in coming to a positive conclusion ; but her own
conduct, her false and contradictory statements, her
warning Gadsden, and her eagerness to throw the
blame on a person who was undoubtedly innocent,
leave in our minds no doubt gf her own guilt.
We are met, however, by two difficulties. First,
the absence of any adequate motive for the crime ;
and, secondly, the fact that she herself partook of
the poisoned dumplings.
With regard to the first, all persons who have any
practical experience of criminal courts know how
slight and insignificant are the motives which some-
tunes impel to the commission of the most appal
ling crimes. The poisoning even of children by
own parents, to obtain the paltry allowance
their
made by burial-clubs on their deaths, became so
common a few years ago as to occasion the express
interference of the legislature. were our We
selves present at the trial of Betty Eccles. That
wretched woman had contracted a habit of poison-
PlTZZLES O.
98 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

ing. If a neighbor s child cried, it was quieted with


a dose of arsenic. One poor
victim, not suslittle

pecting the cause of her agony, besought the mur


deress to take her to the pump to get a drink of
water, to allay the burning thirst with which she
was tormented Thee mayest lie where thee art,"
;
"

was the reply; "thee won t want water long."


When incendiary fires were rife, many instances oc
curred in which there seemed to be no assignable
motive at all beyond the mere desire to see a blaze
and to cause an excitement.
The genius of Scott was never displayed in great
er vigor than in the scene where Elspeth of the

Craigburnfoot discloses to Lord Glenallan the con


spiracy which resulted in the death of Eveline
Neville nor is his knowledge of the human heart
;

more completely shown by anything than the trivial


cause which he assigns for Elspeth s bitter hatred
and deep revenge hated Miss Eveline Neville
: "I

for her ain sake. I brought her frae England, and

during our whole journey she gecked and scorned


at my northern speech and habit, as her southland
leddies and kimmers had done at the boarding-

school, as they ca d Most of our readers, we


it."

fear, if they look honestly back through their own


experience, will be able to recall some domestic
tragedy which has originated in as trivial a cause.
It is equally true of crime as of other things, moral
and physical, that the most monstrous growth often
springs from the most minute seed.
With regard to the second argument, it must be
owned that, if the dumplings had been prepared for
ELIZA FEXXING. 99

the dinner of which Fenning was to partake, it


would have been one of considerable force. But
this was not so. Fenning had prepared the dinner
for herself, her fellow-servant, Gadsden, and the
other apprentice. She made the crust of the pie
from the same flour which was used for the dump
lings, but no one suffered
from sharing that meal.
She ate the dumpling after the ill effects had been
experienced after she had cautioned Gadsden.
Whether she ran the risk for the sake of concealing
her crime, or whether she desired to destroy her own
life, it is impossible to say. It has been asserted

Fenning, some person


that, after the execution of
confessed that he had been the murderer. This
rests on mere rumor. We
have reason to believe
that there is more ground for the statement which
has also been made, that though Eliza Fenning per
sisted in the assertion of her innocence in public
and to the Ordinary of Newgate, yet that she con
fessed her guilt to another person. Neither of
these reports, however, have ever assumed a tangi
ble form, or one which would enable them to be
submitted to that kind of scrutiny which alone could
givethem value. We have therefore disregarded
them altogether in considering the case, and con
fined our attention to legitimate evidence alone.
We attach but little value to Fenning s assertion of
her innocence on the scaffold. Few weeks have
passed since Mullins was executed, making similar
protestations ; yet we presume that no doubt exists
in the mind of any sane man that he was the murder
er of Mrs. Ernsley. Gleeson Wilson, the murderer of
100 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

Mrs. Hendrickson and her children, persisted to the


last in asseverations of his innocence.
We have said that rarely that public opinion
it is

fails to confirm the decisions of our criminal courts.

We attribute this most happy circumstance mainly


to three things: the publicity of all judicial pro

ceedings; the placing of all issues of fact in the


hands of the jury; and the freedom of the judge
from any part in the conduct of the trial. But
we shall probably startle many of our readers when
we say that, in one most important particular, we
think that one of the oldest and best established
rules of our criminal law might be considerably
modified with advantage to the ends of justice.
We allude to the rule which, under all circumstan
ces, prohibits the examination of a person charged
with crime, and the correlative or complimentary
rulewhich precludes him from giving evidence in his
own behalf. No rule is more strictly observed in
English jurisprudence. From the moment that a
man is charged with crime until he is placed at the

bar for trial, he is hedged round with precautions


to prevent him from criminating himself. Upon
his trialhe cannot be asked to explain a doubtful or
suspicious circumstance. Whether he will or not,
his mouth is closed, except for the purpose of cross-
examining the witnesses, until all the evidence is
heard against him, and then he addresses the jury
with the disadvantage ( and, supposing him to be in
nocent, it is a very serious disadvantage ) that even
the jury or the judge cannot put any question
to him which might enable him to clear up what
ELIZA FEXXIXG. 101

was obscure, or to explain what might appear to be


suspicious in his conduct. The armor with which
the law thus shields the guilty becomes an incum-
brance upon the innocent.
The rule originates, no doubt, in a love of fair play.
Every man is entitled to be considered innocent
until he is proved to be guilty. You must not make
a man criminate himself. These are aphorisms in
which we fully agree. But it is equally true that
you ought to give every man the utmost freedom to
prove that he is innocent, and to exculpate himself.
We are fully aware of the evils that arise from
the system pursued in the French courts, where the
judge interrogates the culprit (we use the word in
its legal sense of an accused person, not in its popu

lar meaning of a guilty one) where the grave judi


cialinquiry degenerates into a keen encounter of
"

their wits," and the hand which ought to hold the


balance steady wields, instead, the sword of the com
batant. We know, too, the still greater evils that at
tend the system of secret examination by the judge,
which prevails in other Continental States, and
with which the readers of Feuerbach are familiar ;

and we would far rather retain the imperfections of


our own system than adopt the infinitely worse mis
chiefs which are attendant upon either. Still, the
reverse of wrong is not necessarily right and our ;

own course of proceeding might, we think, be modi


fied with advantage.
In the present state of the law this curious anom
aly exists, that in the very same state of facts, it de
pends upon whether the proceeding is civil or crirn-
102 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

inal, whether the mouth of the accused person is


closed or not. A and his wife, walking home at
night, are met by B and his wife, when B knocks A
down. Aindicts B for the assault, and this being a
criminal proceeding, A and his wife give their evi
dence upon oath, whilst neither B nor his wife can
be examined at all. But suppose that, instead of in
dicting B, A had brought an action against him,
the whole case is changed. Now A and B, and
their respective wives, can all be examined and
cross-examined. Can there be a doubt which course
is most conducive to the elucidation of the truth ;

and can a grosser absurdity be conceived than that


the same court should adopt modes of procedure so
inconsistent in an inquiry into the same facts, be
fore the same judge and the same jury, and prac
tically between the same parties ?
A case occurred last summer which excited great
interest, and which forcibly illustrates the evil we
complain of.
A clergyman of the name of Hatch was indicted
for a gross offense alleged to have been committed
upon a child of tender years, who had been intrust
ed to his care as a pupil. The charge rested almost
solely on the evidence of the child, a girl of the
name of Eugenia
O Plummer. Neither Hatch nor
his wife could be examined, and, as theirs was the

only testimony by which, from the nature of the


case, the charge could be rebutted, Hatch was
convicted. Under the circumstances, it was hardly
possible that the jury could come to any other con
clusion. A few weeks elapsed, and Eugenia Plum-
ELIZA FEXXIXG. 103

mer was placed at the same bar, charged with per


jury. Then the tables were turned. Hatch and his
wife were examined the child s mouth was closed.
;

The jury convicted Eugenia Plummer of perjury.


On the evidence before the jury no other result
could reasonably have been expected. Both the
juries discharged their duties with honesty and in
telligence. Both were assisted in their delibera
tions by judges of the highest character and the

greatest experience and ability, yet one jury or the


other convicted an innocent person. If Plummer
was guilty, Hatch was innocent; if Hatch was
guilty, Plummer was herself the double victim of
and his perjury.
his brutality "We
express no opin
ion whatever as to which jury was right, but it is
manifest that both could not be. It must, we think,
be clear to every one, that the only way in which a
case of this kind could be satisfactorily tried must
be by confronting and examining both the parties.
To attempt to try such issues separately is like

trying to cut a knot with the two disunited halves


of a pair of scissors.
If, upon one trial, both could have been examin
ed, the inquiry would very possibly have terminated
in the acquittal of both. In other words, the jury
might have found the evidence of both so unsatis
factory that they could not found any decision
upon it. Such a result, certainly, would not have
been desirable, yet it would have been far less
objectionable than what has actually taken place.
The conviction of Eugenia Plummer for perjury
has operated as a virtual acquittal of Hatch.
104 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

But every one must feel that that acquittal, having


been obtained when the mouth of the only mate
rial witness against him was closed, is far less
satisfactory than it would have been if it had re
sulted from the decision of a jury who had heard
the evidence of Plummer.
The case of Elizabeth Canning, which we examin
ed at length in a former number, was of the same
description. Squires was convicted of felony on
the evidence of Canning, and Canning was sub
sequently convicted of perjury committed in that
very evidence. On the first trial Squires could not
be examined on the second, Canning was silenced,
;

and both the accused persons were convicted. Such


cases of frequent occurrence, and they arc
are
always attended by this evil, that, whether rightly
or not, public opinion will unavoidably be divided
as to the result. The conviction of Canning hardly
diminished either the number or the zeal of those
who had espoused her cause and it would probably
;

be found that the juries who came to conflicting


decisions in the cases of Hatch and Eugenia Plum
mer, represent, not unfairly, the diversities of public
opinion.
The remedy we would suggest is, that in all cases
a culprit should be permitted to tender himself for
examination. We
think that to allow the prosecu
tor to call the culprit, and to examine him whether he
would or no, would be attended with evils greater
than any advantage to be derived from such a
course evils though the same in
less in degree,

kind, as those which make us shrink with horror


ELIZA FENTSTNG. 105

from the idea of extracting even truth by the means


of torture means which have never been used in
our courts since they were adopted by the express
command of that queen whom Lord Macaulay has
held up to us as the pattern of every gentle and
feminine virtue, and her ruthless husband. If an
accused person choose to remain silent, or to make
his statement to the jury without the sanction of an

oath, and without submitting its truth to the test of


cross-examination, he should be fully at liberty to
do so, subject, of course, to the unfavorable effect
which such a proceeding would unavoidably have
on the minds of the jury. That this would be the
line taken by the guilty would no doubt frequently
be the case; but every innocent man would, we
believe, gladly adopt the other course. We have
heard urged that the ignorant, the stupid, or the
it

timid man would be thus placed at a disadvantage


when exposed to the cross-examination of an ex
perienced, acute, and possibly not very scrupulous
counsel. We believe, on the contrary, that such a

person is the very one to whom (supposing him to


be innocent) the course we suggest would be of the
greatest advantage. What is the position of such

a man now ? He is left to blunder his story out as


best he may, casting it before the jury in a confused,
unintelligible mass, with, very possibly, the most
material parts wholly omitted. If our suggestion
were adopted, the thread of his narrative would
be drawn from the tangled skein by the hand of an
experienced advocate its consistency and its truth
would be tested by cross-examination, and confirmed
106 JUDICIAL PUZZLE $

by re-examination. A greater boon to the ignorant


or timid man falsely accused of crime, than such a
mode of exculpating himself, we can hardly con
ceive.
The ultimate object of all criminal jurisprudence
is the safety of society. When a crime is commit
it is one of a nature to excite ex
ted, especially if
treme horror and detestation, the first and most
natural impulse is to fix the guilt upon some one-
Outraged humanity and public indignation demand
a victim. In the case of the Road murder, we have
seen persons who, from their position and education,
ought to know better, calling out for the abandon
ment of the established forms of law and justice
and the adoption of some new and inquisitorial
mode of proceeding. We have seen a magistrate
holding a sort of extrajudicial court, listening to,
and even asking for, the most absurd and irrelevant
gossip, and exposing the gravest and most serious
inquiry to ridicule.
To attempt to supply a defect by adopting an ex
ceptional course of proceeding in an individual case,
would only be to introduce a mischief of far greater
magnitude.
O It is far better that an individual
crime, however horrible, should remain unpunished,
than that rules established for the purposes of jus
tice should be strained or set aside. But it is well
that we should consider carefully whether those
rules rest on a sound foundation. We
have, with
great advantage, abandoned the rule which former
ly excluded the parties to civil suits from giving
evidence. Webelieve that nothing but good would
ELIZA PENNING. 107

result from the removal of the anomaly which still

exists in our criminal courts when the accuser is

sworn, and gives his evidence on oath, whilst the


accused is refused the same sanction to his denial of
the charge.
V.

SPEXCER COWPER S CASE.

At the summer assizes at Hertford, on the 16th


of July, 1699, a young barrister, rising into emi
nence in his profession, the son of a baronet of
ancient family, who was one of the representatives,
and a brother of a King s Counsel, who was the
other representative of the town in Parliament,
held up his hand at the bar to answer a charge of
murder. It was not for blood shed in an angry
brawl it was not for vindicating his honor by his
sword in defiance of the law, that Spencer Cowper
was arraigned. He was accused of having deliber
ately murdered a woman,whose only fault was hav
ing loved him too devotedly and trusted him too im
plicitly. He was called upon to plead to a charge
which, if proved, would not only consign his body
to the gibbet, but his name to eternal infamy.
Sarah Stout was the only daughter of a Quaker
maltster in the town of Hertford. Her father was
an active and influential supporter of the Cowpers
at the elections, and the kind of intimacy which

ordinarily takes place under such circumstances


arose between the families. Attentions, no doubt
highly flattering to their vanity, were paid to the
wife and daughter of the tradesman by the ladies
of the baronet s family ;
and an intimacy arose be-
PUZZLES 10. C 109 ]
110 JUDICIAL PUZZLES*

tween Spencer Cowper and Sarah, wliich did not


cease when she was left an orphan upon the death
of her father, and he became the husband of another
woman. He managed the little fortune which had
been bequeathed to her he occasionally took up
;

his abode (whether as a guest or lodger does not

appear) at her mother s house, when business called


him to Hertford; and he unhappily inspired her
with a violent, and, as the event proved, a fatal
passion.
Never did the truth of the proverb, "

Cucullus
non facit inonachum," or rather, in this case, mon-
acliam, receive a stronger confirmation than from
the story of poor Sarah Stout. Stormy passions
beat under the dove-colored bodice, and flashed
from the eyes which were shaded by the close
white cap and poke bonnet of the Quakeress. Her
whole heart and soul were given to Spencer Cow
per. A man of sense and honor would, under such
circumstances, at once have broken off the connec
tion, and saved the girl, at the cost of some
present suffering, from future guilt and misery.
A man of weak determination and kind feel
ings might have got hopelessly involved in at
tempting to avoid inflicting pain. Cowper did
neither. He carried on a clandestine correspond
ence with her under feigned names, and received
letters from her breathing the most ardent passion,
which he displayed amongst his profligate associ
ates. He introduced a friend to her as a suitor,
and then betrayed to that friend the secrets which,
above al1 others, a man of honor is bound to guard
SPEXCER COWPER S CASE. Ill

with the strictest fidelity. He behaved as ill as a


man could do under the circumstances.
On the morning of Monday, the 13th day of
March, the first day of the spring assizes of 1699,
Spencer Cowper arrived in Hertford, traveling (as
was then the custom of the bar) on horseback. He
went direct to the house of Mrs. Stout, where he
was expected, in consequence of a letter which had
been written, announcing his intended visit. He
was asked to alight, but declined to do so, as he
wished to show himself in the town. He promised,
however, to send his horse, and to come himself to
dinner. This promise he kept, and having dined
with Mrs. Stout and her daughter, he left the house
about four o clock, saying that he had business in
the town, but that he would return in the evening.
At nine he returned, asked for pen, ink, and paper
to write to his wife, and had his supper. Mrs.
Stout, the mother, went to bed, leaving Spencer
Cowper and her daughter together, orders having
been given to make a fire in his room. Between
ten and eleven o clock Sarah called the servant girl,
and, in Cowper s hearing, desired her to warm his
bed. She went up-stairs for that purpose, leaving
Spencer Cowper and Sarah alone in the parlor to
gether. As she went up-stairs she heard the house-
clock (which was half an hour too fast) strike eleven.
In about a quarter of an hour afterwards she heard
the house-door shut to, and, supposing that Cowper
had gone to post his letter, she remained warming
his bed for a quarter of an hour longer. She then
went down-stairs, and found that both Spencer Cow
per and her young mistress were gone.
112 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

The mother could not be examined upon the trial,


as shewas a Quaker, and could not take an oath.
The account of the transactions of that day, there
fore, rests solely upon the evidence of Sarah Walk
er, the servant, who deponed as follows :

May it please you, my lord, on Friday before


"

the last assizes, Mr. Cowper s wife sent a letter to


Mrs. Stout, that she might expect Mr. Cowpcr at
the assize-time; and, therefore, we expected Mr-
Cowper at that time, and accordingly provided ;

and as he came in with the judges, she asked him


if he would alight ? He said, No by reason I ;

came in later than usual, I will go into town and


show myself, but he would send his horse presently.
She asked him how long it would be before he would
come, because they would stay for him ? He said
he could not tell, but he would send her word and ;

she thought he had forgot, and sent me down to


know whether he would please to come. He said
he had business, and he could not come just then ;

but he came in less than a quarter of an hour after,


and dined there, and he went away at four o clock ;

and then my mistress asked him if he would lie


there ? And he answered yes, and he came at night
about nine and he sat talking about half an hour,
;

and then called for pen, ink, and paper, for that, as
he said, he was to write to his wife which was ;

brought him, and he wrote a letter and then my ;

mistress went arid asked him what he would have


for supper? lie said milk, by reason he had made
a good dinner and I got him his supper, and he ate
;

it ; after, she called me in again, and they were talk-


113

ing together, and then she bid me make a fire in

his chamber and when I had done so, I came and


;

told him of it, and he looked at me, and made me


no answer then she bid me warm the bed, which
;

accordingly I went up to do as the clock struck


eleven and in about a quarter of an hour I heard
;

the door shut, and I thought he was gone to convey


the letter, and stayed about a quarter of an hour
longer, and came down, and he was gone, and she ;

and Mrs. Stout, the mother, asked me the reason


why he went out when I was warming his bed?
And she asked me for my mistress, and I told her I
left her with Mr. Cowper and I never saw her after
;

*
that, nor did Mr. Cowper return to the house."
Cowper, who defended himself with great ability,
asked the witness in cross-examination :

When you came down and missed your mistress,


"

did you inquire after her all that night ?


No, sir, I did not go out of the doors I
"A.
;

thought you were with her, and so I thought she


would come to no harm.
"J/r.
Cowper. Here is a whole night she gives
no account of. Pray, mistress, why did you not go
after her ?
"A.
My mistress would not let me.
"Mr.
Cowper. Why would she not let you ?
"A. I said I would seek for her. No, says she,
you go and seek for
4
by reason, if and do nother,
find her, it will make an alarm over the town, and
there may be no
"

occasion. f
Maternal solicitude could not be very strong in the
* 13 State Trials, 1112. t Ibid, 1114.
114 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

breast of Mrs. Stout, or slie was disposed to place


a more than ordinary degree of confidence in the
discretion of her daughter and young Cowper.
Sarah Stout was never again seen alive. The next
morning her body was found in a mill-dam some
thing less than a mile distant. Cowper never re
turned to Mrs. Stout s he was seen at an inn in the
;

town at eleven, and arrived at other lodgings, which


he had hired in the town, at a quarter past. Here the
evidence ends. A
vast amount of testimony was
given at the trial, as to whether the body of the
girl floated or not as to whether a body thrown in
;

to the water after death would float or sink but it ;

came to nothing. The coroner s inquest had been


hurried over, and no examination of the body had
taken place until long after decomposition had pro
ceeded too far to allow of any satisfactory result
being arrived at.
In a former number ^ we observed on the ef
fect of the rule of law which excludes a prisoner
not only from giving evidence on his own behalf but ,

also from tendering himself for cross-examination.


If Cowper was innocent, that rule bore hardly upon
him in the present case. We will, however, give
him the full benefit of his own account of the matter.
He said f and in this he was confirmed by the evi
dence of his brother that having received a pressing
invitation to take up his quarters during the assizes
at Mrs. Stout s, he had resolved to do so, his object
being to save the expense of other lodgings at the
house of a person of the name of Barefoot, where
* 1H9.
Ante, Eliza Fenning s Case. t 13 State Trials,
SPENCER COWPER S CASE. 115

he had been in the habit of staying with his brother.


Finding that his brother would be detained in Lon
don by his parliamentary duties, he requested him
to write and countermand the lodgings at Barefoot s.
This he neglected to do, and on Spencer Cowper s
arrival at Hertford he found them prepared for him.

Finding that he should have at any rate to pay for


these lodgings, which were nearer to the court
house and more commodious than Mrs. Stout s, he
determined to occupy them. His account is as fol
lows:
My lord, coming to this town on Mon
as to my
"

day, it was the


day of the assizes, and that was
first

the reason that brought me hither before I came ;

out of town, I confess, I had a design to take a


lodging at this gentlewoman s house, having been

invited by letter so to do and the reason why I


;

did not was this my :


brother, when he went the
circuit, always favored me with the offer of a part
of his lodgings, which, out of good husbandry, I al
ways accepted. The last circuit was in Parliament-

time, and my brother being in the money-chair,


could not attend the circuit as he used to do he ;

had very good lodgings, I think one of the best in


this town, where I used to be with him these were ;

always kept for him, unless notice was given to the


contrary. The Friday before I came down to the
assizes I happened to be in company with my broth
er and another gentleman, and then I showed them
the letter by which I was earnestly invited down to
lie at the house of this gentlewoman during the assizes
[ it is dated the 9th of March last ] ;
and designing

OF THE
116 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

to comply with the invitation, I thereupon desired


my brother to write to Mr. Barefoot, our landlord,
and get him, he could, to dispose of the lodgings
if ;

for, said I, he keeps them, they must be paid


if

for, and then I cannot well avoid lying there.

My brother did say he would write, if he could


think on it ; and thus, if Mr. Barefoot disposed of
the lodgings, I own I intended to lie at the de
ceased s house; but if not, I looked on myself
obliged to lie at Mr. Barefoot s. Accordingly I
shall prove, as soon as ever I came to this town, in
the morning of the first day of the assizes, I went
directly to Mr. Barefoot s, [the maid and all agreed
in this] and the reason was, I had not seen my
brother after he said he would write, before I went
out to Londonand therefore it was proper for me
;

to go firstMr. Barefoot s to know whether my


to
brother had wrote to him, and whether he had dis
posed of his lodgings or not. As soon as I came to
Mr. Barefoot s, I asked his wife and maid-servant,
one after another, if they had received a letter from
my brother unbespeak the lodgings they told me
to ;

no, that the room was kept


for us and I think they
;

had made a fire, and that the sheets were airing. I


was a little concerned he had not writ but being ;

satisfied that no letter had been received, I said im

mediately, as I shall prove by several witnesses, if


it be must stay with you I will take up my
so, I ;

lodging here. Thereupon I alighted, and sent for


my bag to the coffee-house, and lodged all my things
ut Barefoot s, and thus I took up my lodging there
as usual. I had no sooner done this, but Sarah
SPEXCER COWPER S CASE. 117

Walker came to me from her mistress to invite me


to dinner, and accordingly I went and dined there ;

and when I went away, it may be true that, being


asked, I said I would come again at night but that ;

I said I would lie there, I do positively


deny;
and knowing I could not lie there, it is unlikely I
should say so. My lord, at night I did come again,
and paid her some money that I received from Mr.
Loftus, who is the mortgagor, for interest of the
200 I before mentioned [ it was 6, odd money, in
guineas and half-guineas] I writ a receipt, but she
:

declined the signing of it, pressing me to stay there


that night ; which I refused, as engaged to lie at
Mr. Barefoot s, and took my leave of her and that ;

very money which I paid her was found in her


*
pocket, as I have heard, after she was drowned."
When Cowper recurs, at a later period of the
to the events of that night, he says
trial, Now, if :
"

your lordship pleases, I would explain that part of


Sarah Walker the maid s evidence, when she says
her mistress ordered her to warm the bed, and I
never contradicted And after calling the at
it."

tention of the court to the warm expressions con


tained in the letter he had received from the girl,
he goes on :

"

I had rather leave it to be observed than make


the observation myself, what might be the dispute
between us at the time the maid speaks of. I think
itwas not necessary she should be present at the
debate; and therefore I might not interrupt her
mistress or the orders she gave ; but as soon as the
* 13 State Trials, 1150.
118 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

maid was gone I made use of these objections and ;

I told Mrs. Stout by what accident I was obliged


to take up my lodging at Mr. Barefoot s, and that
the family was sitting up for me that my staying
;

at her house under these circumstances would in


all
probability invoke the censure, of the town and
country, and that therefore I could not stay, what
ever my inclination otherwise might be but, my ;

lord, reasons not prevailing, I was forced to


my
decide the controversy by going to my lodging;
so that the maid may swear true when she says I
did not contradict her orders." *
It will be observed that Cowper first puts his
change of intention as to staying at Mrs. Stout s
solely on the ground of having other lodgings on
his hands. He says that until he found those lodg
ings Avere engaged, he had determined to take up
his abode at Mrs. Stout s. The question was simply
one of the cost of the lodgings. When, however,
he has to account for the servant girl s evidence as
to his consent to the preparations for his passing
the night there, orders for which were given in his
presence, then, for the first time, he begins to talk
of "provoking the censure of the town and coun
t It is impossible to know what took place
try."

after the servant girl left the room. Cowper him


self leaves it unexplained whether he left Sarah

Stout in the house, or whether she quitted it at the


same time that he did. The latter would seem to
be the more probable conjecture, from the fact that
the door was only heard to shut once, and it was
* State Trials, 1170. t Ibid, 1177.
SPENCER COTVPEK S CASE. 119

it was not
proved that easy to shut the door with
out being heard. If Cowper had been entitled to
submit himself to cross-examination, these facts
might have been, and probably would have* been,
explained.
Here, not only the evidence, but the whole sub
stance of Cowper s defense ends. The trial was
prolonged by an enormous mass of testimony, partly
from men of the highest eminence in the medical
profession,and partly from persons who had seen
great numbers of bodies, some of which had been
thrown into the sea after death, and others of
which had been drowned in naval engagements and
shipwrecks, as to whether the fact of a body float
ing afforded any evidence that life was extinct be
fore ithad been thrown into the water. On this
point the evidence was, as might be anticipated,
contradictory, but had it been otherwise, it would
have been of no value for the question, whether
;

Sarah Stout s body floated or sank, was not proved


either one way or the other. It was found en

tangled among some stakes in the mill-dam, in


a manner which rendered it impossible to say
whether it was supported or kept down.* There

*See the evidence of Berry .Venables, Dell, Ulfe, Dew, Edmunds, Page,
How, and Meager, 13 State Trials, 111G to 1122. All these witnesses, who
were present when the body was found in the mill-dam, agree in assert
ing that the "floated,"
"body and they no doubt believed what they
said, their evidence affording an example of how far a preconceived
idea will affect belief ; they describe the body as lying on the right side,
the head and right arm being driven between the stakes , which were
something less than a foot apart, by the stream. Robert Dew and
Young, who were called on behalf of the prisoner, and who were also
present when the body was taken out of the water, assert equally posi-
120 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

was, therefore, no basis on which to found the scien


tificevidence, and the case against Cowper rested
upon a very few facts, and may be summed up
in very few words. He was the last person in
Sarah Stout s company. His conduct on leaving
the house was mysterious and unexplained. When
he left, instead of going direct to his lodgings, he
went to the Glove and Dolphin Inn to pay a small
bill for
horse-keep. This had somewhat the appear
ance of a desire to secure evidence of an alibi. He
was, on his own showing, embarrassed by Sarah
Stout s pertinacious attachment, and had a stronger
motive to get rid of her than has sometimes been
found sufficient to prompt men to the most revolting
crimes. On the other hand, it must be remembered
that Cowper was not, like Tawell, a man who prided
himself on his reputation for the respectabilities of
life, but, as well as his more celebrated brother, a
man of known libertinism, not likely to commit a
crime of the deepest dye for the purpose of conceal
ing a disreputable intrigue. To have convicted
Cowper of murder upon this evidence would have
tively that the body sank see p. 1151. These two witnesses desci ibo
the mode in which the body was entangled in the states with more par
ticularity than the witnesses for the prosecution. The judge, in his
charge to the jury, treated this evidence like a man of sense. I shall
"

not undertake," he said, to give youtho particulars of their evidence


"

but they tell you she lay on her right side, the one arm up even with
the surface of the water, and her body under the water ; but some of
her clothes were above the water particularly, one says, the ruffles of
;

her left arm were above the water. You have heard, also, what the
doctors and surgeons said, on the one side and the other, concerning the
swimming and sinking of dead bodies in the water but lean find no
;

certainty in it ; and I leave it to your consideration." 13 State Trials,


1188.
121

been, of course, impossible. But the case must ever


remain shrouded in the darkest mystery. If not
what the law defines as murder, there can be
guilty of
no doubt that Cowper s conduct was the immediate
cause of the death of the unhappy girl. When the
servant left the room they were on the most amica
ble terms. This is fixed by the evidence, as nearly
as possible, at half-past ten by the town-clock. As
the clock struck eleven, Cowper entered the Glove
and Dolphin Inn.* In that short half-hour he had
either incurred the guilt of murder, or by his un-
kindness had driven a woman, who loved him with
the most devoted affection, to rush uncalled into the
presence of her Maker. Cowper, if not a murderer,
which we think he was not, must, at any rate, have
been a man of a singularly cold and unfeeling dispo
sition. According to his own version of the story,
the girl, whom he had left only a few moments
before, immediately upon his quitting her, sought a
refuge from her love, her sorrows, and her shame,
under the cold waters of the Priory river. On the
next morning he heard of her fate, and the first
thing he did was to send the hostler from the inn
to her mother s house for his horse, fearing lest, if
the coroner jury should bring in a verdict of felo
s

de se^ the animal might, being found in her stable,


be claimed as forfeited to the lord of the manor.
From first is not one word of tender
to last there
ness or regret. He
never went near the bereaved
mother, but he attended the coroner s inquest, gave
* Evidence of Elizabeth
Spurr, 13 State Trials, 1177.

PUZZLES 11.
122 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

his evidencewith the utmost coolness, and the next


day proceeded on circuit as if nothing unusual had
taken place. Three other persons were indicted
along with Cowper as the accomplices of his crime,
but against them there was not even the shadow of
a case. The jury, after deliberating for about half
an hour, acquitted all the prisoners.
The Sarah Stout attempted to bring
relatives of

Cowper to a second trial by means of a proceeding


now abolished, entitled The Appeal of Murder."
"

The attempt failed through the influence of the


Cowpers, who tampered with the sheriff, and pro
cured the destruction of the writs. The sheriffwas
fined and imprisoned for his misconduct, Holt, the
Chief Justice, severely animadverting on the foul
play which had been employed to impede the course
of justice.* Cowper continued to ryractice at the
bar, and was at last raised to the bench of the Court
of Common Pleas, a remarkable instance of a man
who had held up his hand on an arraignment for
murder, trying others for the same offense. He is
said to have learned a lesson of caution and mercy
from his own experience, and to have been remark
able for both those qualities.
One might have supposed that poor Sarah Stout
would have been allowed to sleep in peace, without
having her name revived and her sad story made
famous more than a century and a half after her
death. But such was not to be her fate. The oppor
tunity of a double fling at Quakers and Tories has
been too great a temptation for Lord Macaulay. It
* Lord Raymond, i, 575, B. v. Toler 13 State Trials, 1199.
123

was a right-and-left shot at the game he loved best.


Accordingly, in the fifth and concluding volume of
his History, in that partwhich we are told by the
editor he had left and revised,"
"

fairly transcribed
we find four pages devoted to the case of that un
happy girl. The whole passage is so eloquent, so
picturesque, so ingenious in insinuation, so daring
in the misrepresentation of facts and the distortion
of evidence, and affords so good an epitome of the
best and the worst qualities of the author, that we
give it entire :

"

One mournful tale, which called forth the strong


est feelings of the contending factions, is still re
membered as a curious part of the history of
our jurisprudence, and especially of the history
of our medical jurisprudence. No Whig member
of the Lower House, with the single exception of

Montague, filled a larger space in the public eye


than William Cowper. In the art of conciliating
an audience, Cowper was pre-eminent. His grace
ful and engaging eloquence cast a spell on
juries ;

and the Commons, even in those stormy moments


when no other defender of the administration could
obtain a hearing, would always listen to him. He
represented Hertford, a borough in which his
family had considerable influence but there was a ;

strong Tory minority among the electors, and he


had not won his seat without a hard fight, which
had left behind it many bitter recollections. His
younger brother, Spencer, a man of parts and learn
ing, was fast rising into practice as a barrister on
the home circuit.
124 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

"At Hertford resided an opulent Quaker family


named Stout. A
pretty young woman of this
family had lately sunk into a melancholy, of a kind
not very unusual in girls of strong sensibility and
lively imagination, who are subject to the restraints
of austere religious societies. Her dress, her looks,
her gestures, indicated the disturbance of her mind.
She sometimes hinted her dislike of the sect to
which she belonged. She complained that a cant
ing waterman, who was one of the brotherhood,
had held forth against her at a meeting. She
threatened to go beyond sea, to throw herself out
of the window, to drown herself. To two or three
of her associates she owned that she was in love ;

and on one occasion she plainly said that the man


whom she loved was one whom she never could
marry. In fact, the object of her fondness was
Spencer Cowpcr, who was already married. She
at length wrote to him in language which she never
would have used if her intellect had not been dis
ordered. He, like an honest man, took no advan
tage of her unhappy state of mind, and did his best
to avoid her. His prudence mortified her to such
a degree that on one occasion she went into fits.
It was necessary, however, that he should see her
when he came to Hertford at the spring assizes of
1699, for he had been intrusted with some money
which was due to her on mortgage. He called on her
for this purpose late one evening, and delivered a

bag of gold to her. She pressed him to be the


guest of her family, but he excused himself and re
tired. The next morning she was found dead
125

among the stakes of a mill-clam on the stream called


the Priory river. That she had destroyed herself
there could be 110 reasonable doubt. The coroner s
inquest found that she had drowned herself while
in a state of mental derangement. But the family
was unwilling to admit that she had shortened her
own life, and looked about for somebody who might
be accused of murdering her. The last person who
could be proved to have been in her company was
Spencer Cowper. It chanced that two attorneys
and a scrivener, who had come down from town to
the Hertford assizes, had been overheard, on that
unhappy night, talking over their wine about the
charms and flirtations of the handsome Quaker
girl, in the light way in which such subjects are
sometimes discussed even at the circuit tables and
mess tables of our more refined Ogeneration. Some
wild words, susceptible of a double meaning, were
used about the way in which she had jilted one
lover, and the way in which another lover would
punish her for her coquetry. On no better grounds
than these, her relations imagined that Spencer
Cowper had, with the assistance of these three re
tainers of the law, strangled her, and thrown her
corpse into the water. There was absolutely no
evidence of the crime. There was no evidence
that any one of the accused had any motive to
commit such a crime there was no evidence that
;

Spencer Cowper had any connection with the per


sons who were said to be his accomplices. One of
those persons, indeed, he had never seen. But no
126 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

story too absurd to be imposed on minds blinded


is

by religious and political fanaticism.


"The Quakers and the Tories joined to raise a
formidable clamor. The Quakers had, in those
days, no scruples about capital punishments. They
would, indeed, as Spencer Cowper said bitterly, but
too truly, rather send four innocent men to the
gallows than let it be believed that one who had
their light within her had committed suicide. The
Tories exulted in the prospect of winning two seats
from the Whigs. The whole kingdom was divided
between Stouts and Cowpers. At the summer
assizes Hertford was crowded with anxious faces
from London, and from parts of England more dis
tant than London. The prosecution was conducted
with a malignity and unfairness which to us seem
almost incredible ; and, unfortunately, the dullest
and most ignorant judge of the twelve was on the
bench. Cowper defended himself and those who
were said to be his accomplices with admirable
ability and self-possession. His brother, much more
distressed than himself, sat near him through the
long agony of that day. The case against the
prisoners rested chiefly on the vulgar error that a
human body found, as this girl s body had been
found, floating in water, must have been thrown
into the water while still alive. To prove this doc
trine, the counsel for the Crown called medical

practitioners, of whom nothing is now knoAvn ex


cept that some of them had been active against the
Whigs at Hertford elections. To confirm the
evidence of these gentlemen, two or three sailors
SPEXCER COWPER S CASE. 127

were put into the witness-box. On the other side


appeared an array of men of science whose names
are still remembered. Among them was William
Cowper not a kinsman of the defendant, but the
most celebrated anatomist that England had then
produced. He was, indeed, the founder of a dynasty
illustrious in the history of sciencefor he was the
;

teacher of William Cheselden, and William Chesel-


den was the teacher of John Hunter. On the same
side appeared Samuel Garth, who, among the physi
cians of the capital, had no rival except Radcliffe,
and Hans Sloane, the founder of the magnificent
museum which is one of the glories of our country.
The attempt of the prosecutors to make the super
stitions of the forecastle evidence, for the purpose
of taking away the lives of men, was treated by
these philosophers with just disdain. The stupid
judge asked Garth what he could say in answer to
the testimony of the seamen. My lord, replied
Garth, I say that they are mistaken. I will find
.

seamen in abundance to swear that they have known


whistling raise the wind. The jury found the
prisoners not guilty, and the report carried back to
London by persons who had been present at the
trial was, that everybody applauded the verdict,
and that even the Stouts seemed to be convinced
of their error. It is certain, however, that the
malevolence of the defeated party soon revived in
all its energy. The lives of the four men who had
just been absolved were again attacked by means
of the most absurd and odious proceeding known
to our old law, the appeal of murder. This attack,
128 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

too, failed. Every artifice of chicane was at length


exhausted and nothing was left to the disappointed
;

sect and the disappointed faction except to calum


niate those whom it had been found impossible to
murder. In a succession of libels, Spencer Cowper
was held up to the execration of the public. But
the public did him justice. He rose to high emi
nence in his profession; he at length took his seat,
with general applause, on the judicial bench, and
there distinguished himself by the humanity which
he never failed to show to unhappy men who stood,
as he had stood, at the bar. Many who seldom
trouble themselves about pedigrees may be interest
ed by learning that he was the grandfather of that
excellent man and excellent poet, William Co \vper,
whose writings have long been peculiarly loved and
prized by the members of the religious community
which, under a strong delusion, sought to slay his
innocent progenitor.*
Though Spencer Cowper had escaped with life
"

and honor, the Tories had carried their point. They


hail secured against the next election the support of
the Quakers of Hertford and the consequence was,
;

that the borough was family and to the


lost to the

party which had lately predominated there."

Notwithstanding the fact that Lord Macaulay lias


It is curious that all Cowper s biographers with whom I am ac
*"

quainted Hayley, Southey, Grimshawe, Chalmers mention the judge,


the common ancestor of the p jet, of his first love, Theodora Cowper,
and of Lady Hesketh, but that none of these biographers makes the
faintest allusion to the Hertford trial, the most remarkable event in the
history of the family ; nor do I believe that any allusion to that trial
can be found in any of the poet s numerous letters."
CASE. 129

given so large a space to this case, lie has read it


with more than ordinary carelessness. He says:
The case against the prisoner rested chiefly on the
"

human body found, as this poor


vulgar error that a
body had been found, floating in the water, must
girl s
have been thrown into the water while still alive" *
The argument was exactly the reverse. It was
urged that the fact of her body floating proved that
she was thrown into the water after she was dead;
and it was sought to be inferred that she had been
strangled that as was argued on behalf of the
if,

prisoner, she had drowned herself, her body would


have been filled with water, and would have sunk.
The evidence as to whether the body did in fact
float or sink, was, as we have seen, contradictory.
The post mortem examination was delayed so long
that the medical testimony had really no foundation
of facts to rest upon. At the trial an attempt was
made, on the part of the prisoner, to establish the
insanity of the girl but nothing more was proved
;

than might be easily shown to have occurred in the


case of any love-sick girl who was, or fancied her
self, the victim of an unrequited passion. Lord
Macaulay s treatment of this evidence is amusing.
Three of the circumstances en which he relies to
prove her insanity are 1st, That she sometimes
"

hinted a dislike of the sect to which she belonged,"


which is rather an odd proof of insanity in the
mouth of Lord Macaulay; 2d, That "she com
plained that a canting waterman, who was one of
the brethren, had forth against her at a meet-
h<?ld

*Vol. v, 238.
130 JUDICIAL riTZZLES.

(which happened to be true, and seems to bo


"

ing
a tolerably reasonable ground of annoyance) ; and,
3d, That to two or three of her associates she
"

owned she was in love."


( Alas for all young ladies
from sixteen upwards, in white satin, and their con
fidantes in white linen, if this is to be taken as a

proof of insanity ) But when Lord Macaulay !

comes to the facts connected with Cowper s Avrit-

ing to announce his intention of staying at the


house, his dining there, his return in the evening,
and his mysterous disappearance at night simul
taneously with the girl, he condenses them into the
following words He, like an honest man, took no
"

advantage of her unhappy state of mind, and did his


best to avoid her
"

(it was, to say the least,


an odd
mode of avoiding her that he adopted). was "It

necessary, however, that he should see her when lie


came to Hertford at the spring assizes of 1099,
for he had been intrusted with some money
which was due to her on mortgage. He called on
her, for this purpose, late one evening, and de
"

livered a bag of gold to her." (The bag exists


"

only in Lord Macaulay imagination the gold


s
"
"

was the petty sum of six pounds and a few odd


shillings, which Cowper had received for her as
in
terest on a sum of 200 which he had placed out on
mortgage on her behalf, and the payment of which
certainly did not make it necessary that he should
be with her from two till four, and again from nine
till half-past ten at night.) She pressed him," adds "

Lord Macaulay, to be the guest of the family, but


"

he excused himself and retired"


SPENCER COWPER S CASE. 131

It is worth while, as a matter of philological curi


osity, to enumerate over again the facts which one
of the greatest masters of the English language can

compress into the phrase he excused himself and


"

Cowper went to the house on his arrival


retired."

town, dined there with the family, left at four,


in the
returned at nine, supped, wrote his letters, was
present whilst his bed and his bedroom fire were
ordered and the maid was sent up to warm his bed ;
sat alone until half-past ten o clock at night with a

girl who he knew was violently in love with him,


who had been in the habit of addressing the most
passionate letters to him under a feigned name, and
then abiit excessit
"

evasit erupit" His de


parture only announced by the slamming-to of the
street-door. This is Lord s Macaulay s notion of
excusing himself and retiring." He and the girl
"

disappeared together. In the morning he is at other


lodgings in the town, and she a corpse in the mill-
dam.
For the charge that Lord Macaulay makes that
the prosecution was conducted with a malignity
"

and unfairness which to us seem almost incredible,"


we cannot discover the slightest ground. Certainly
none is to be found in the very ample and detailed

report in the State Trials." Indeed, a far greater


"

latitudewas allowed to the prisoner in his defense


than would be permitted at the present day. What
authority Lord Macaulay may have had for describ
ing Hatsell, who presided at the trial, as "the

and most ignorant judge of the twelve," we


dullest
know not. He seems to have tried the case with
132 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

strictimpartiality and very fair ability, and his


charge to the jury was decidedly in favor of the
prisoners.
We have frequently had occasion to remark upon
the caution which ought to be observed before rely
ing upon Lord Macaulay s marks of quotation. An
amusing instance of this occurs in the passage we
have just cited. A
sailor of the name of Clement

deponed that he had frequently observed that when


a corpse was thrown into the sea it floated where ;

as, if a man fell into the water and was drowned,


his body sank as soon as life was extinct. In con
firmation of this, he cited his own experience at the
fight off Beachy Head, where the bodies of the men
who were killed floated about and at a shipwreck, ;

where between five and six hundred men were


drowned, whose bodies sank. This evidence was
curious, and if it had been proved whether Sarah
Stout s body floated or sank, would have been val
uable. The judge felt, no doubt, that it was so ;

and when Garth swore that it was impossible the"

body should have floated," and boldly stated his be


lief that all dead bodies fall to the bottom unless
"

be prevented by some extraordinary tumor,"


^
they
he directed his attention to the evidence which had
been given, and asked him what he said as to the
"

sinking of dead bodies in water ? Garth replied "

that, a
"

if strangled body be thrown into the water,


the lungs being filled with air, and a cord left about
the neck, it was possible it might float, because of

* 13 State Trials, 1157.


133

the included air, as a bladder would." Upon this


the judge called his attention to the question as fol
lows:
"J3aro?i Hatsell. But you do not observe my
question the seamen said that those that die at sea
:

and are thrown overboard, if you do not tie a weight


to them, they will not sink what do you say to
that?
"Dr. Garth. My lord, no doubt in this thing
they are mistaken. The seamen are a superstitious
people they fancy that whistling at sea will occa
:

sion a tempest. I must confess I have never seen

anybody thrown overboard ; but I have tried some


experiments on other dead animals, and they will
certainly sink we have tried them since we came
;

hither."
*
Now in this, we confess, it seems to us that the
judge appears to greater advantage than the physi
cian. Garth was evidently desirous to evade the
question, and he attempted to do so by a sneer.
The superstition of the sailors had nothing to do
with the question whether a man killed in battle
and falling into the water floats or sinks. Garth
was compelled to admit that he had no experience
on the subject. He said, and said truly, that "the
object of tying weights to a body is to prevent it

from floating at all, which otherwise would happen


in some few days." t The well-known instance of
the floating of the body of Caracciolo, notwithstand
ing the weights which were attached to his feet,
* State
Trials, 1158. t Ibid.

PUZZLES 1 a.
134 JUDICIAL PUZZLES

will occur at once to the mind of the reader. The


inquiry of the judge was pertinent to the evidence,
and the reply might have been material to the ques
tion of the guilt or innocence of the prisoner. Lord

Macaulay disposes of both question and answer in


the following words The stupid judge asked
:
"

Garth what he could say in answer to the testimony


of the seamen. My c
lord, replied Garth, I say
that they are mistaken. I Avill find seamen in
abundance to swear that they have known whistling
raise the wind. There was no stupidity that we
"

can discover in the question, and the answer is mis


quoted.
Lord Macaulay, however, does not trouble him
self with the facts of the case. He finds for once
the Quakers and the Tories united, (or rather, we
ought to say, he assumes their union; for from
first to last in the trial there is not a particle of evi

dence that political feeling intervened) and he in


fers that they could only be united for the purpose
of committing a judicial murder; that the object of
the Quakers was to send four innocent men to the
"

gallows rather than let it be believed that one who


had their within her had committed *
light suicide,"

and that the Tories were urged on to the same


atrocity by "the prospect of winning two seats
from the Whigs." Lord Macaulay makes no ac
count of the feelings that would be awakened
amongst relations, friends, and neighbors, by the
sudden and violent death of a young and beautiful
girl, who, whether murdered or not, had unques-
* Vol. v, 237.
135

tionably been cruelly trifled with by a man who, if


not directly, was at any rate indirectly the cause of
her death. "Religious and political fanaticism"
are motives the power of which Lord Macaulay
was certainly not likely to underrate. Yet it might
have been supposed that the religion of Sarah Stout
was one which he would have been disposed to
not with respect, at least with tenderness,
treat, if
however mistaken his more mature convictions might
lead him to consider it to be.
have ourselves little sympathy with the pe
"We

culiar tenets and habits of the Quakers. It is diffi


cult for any one to write with perfect justice about
that very singular sect. A
body of Christians who
make it part of their religion to observe the strict
est rules of grammar in the use of the singular and
plural of the personal pronouns, whilst they habit
ually violate them as to the nominative and accusa
tive ;
whose consciences are tender as to buttons ;

who hold gay colors to be "

unfriendly," whilst they


delight in the richest and most costly fabrics ; who
shrink from the hypocrisy of addressing a stranger
as Dear Sir," while they have no scruple in call
"

ing the man they most despise "

Respected Friend,"

merely commit amusing eccentricities. The evil is


much more serious when they
proscribe all those
arts which tend most to brighten
O our course through
O
life. Literature, except of the most dreary kind, is
prohibited to strict Friends. once made a We
passing allusion to Mr. Jonathan Oldbuck, in conver
sation with one of the most eminent Quakers of the

day, a member of a learned profession, and discov-


136 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

cred, to our astonishment, that he was in total igno


rance of the Waverly Novels." Another vener
"

able and strict Friend, seeing a volume lettered


Horatii Opera on the table of one of his laxer
"
"

brethren, shook his head gravely, and said, Thou "

knowest, friend, that we have a testimony against


all Nothing can be conceived more deso
operas."

late than a pure Quaker library Barclay s "Apolo :

gy"
and Baxter s "Saint s Rest," Penn s "No
Cross, no Crown," and George Fox s Journal
"
"

perhaps, by extraordinary good fortune, Paradise


"

Lost and The Task


" "
"

all excellent in their way,

but not exactly the books to while away a tedious


hour ;
and one looks in vain for Shakespeare and
Scott, for Pope or Fielding. Painting and music
share the same fate. Now and then, however, hap
pily, the old Adam is too strong, and such arts are
cultivated either "

clandecently," as Mawworrn
says,or in open defiance of the yearly meeting.
Gastronomy is the only one of the liberal arts that
nourishes unrestrained. The Quakers arc a hos

pitable people; their dinners are excellent and


their wines super-excellent. The whitest linen, the
most and the most sparkling glass,
brilliant silver,
are be found at their tables. They indulge,
to
not to excess, but silently and thankfully, in these
good things, and a certain serious rotundity has in
consequence become hereditary amongst them. The
late Lord Macaulay himself inherited something of
this formation, modified, however, by the admixture
which his blood had received from the lean and
hungry Celts to whom he owed his Highland name.
SPEXCER COWPER S CASE. 137

This formation no doubt unfavorable to great


is

personal activity but personal activity is of little


;

import to a Quaker. Field sports, and their at


tendant festivities of all kinds, are prohibited. A
Quaker thinks of a hunt-ball as if it were a war
dance of wild Indians. But here, again, nature will
sometimes assert her rights. We have known a
Quaker to be an excellent judge of a horse, and
some of the best heavy weights across the Pytchly
and Warwickshire countries have been of pure
Quaker blood. We once heard of a Quaker horse-
dealer. But of all strange sights, a Quaker child is
the strangest. To find a little curly-headed darling
of four or five years old, who, instead of climbing
on one s knee, and
insisting vociferously on a game
at romps or a fairy story before it will go to bed,
walks off demurely with a Fare thee well, friend,"
"

is enough to make one s hair stand on end.

Early as this discipline begins, it is pleasant to


find that nature is sometimes too strong for it. We
have lately met with a narrative (published within
the last six months) of a Quaker journey in Amer
ica, writ by one William Tallack, a Friend, who, if
we are to judge of him by his book, must be dry
enough to satisfy the most nervous dread of any
approach to that humidity which constitutes a wet
"

"

Quaker being peculiarly abhorrent to consist


a
ent Friends. After devoting many pages to bon
nets with round crowns, and bonnets with square
crowns, buttons and straps, knee shorts, and slit
"

collars,"
and those still more execrable abomina
tions, "turned-down collars with slits in them"
138 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

(though, we confess, without making it by any


means clear to one of the profane what constitutes
a slit collar) ; after recording how one Elias Hicks
"felt that his conscience required the relinquish-
ment of unnecessary buttons to his coat," and com

pelled him to turn up a cushion in the meeting,


"

and to seat himself 011 the hard board," * he gives


some extracts from the records of the Quakers
meeting, amongst which it is really refreshing to
meet the passions and the foibles of poor human
nature.
Here is the confession of a warm-tempered
Friend, who probably would have been all tho bet
ter for the cooling discipline he administered to his

neighbor, even at the risk of the dreaded conse


quence of becoming wet."
"

"Whereas, I contended with my neighbor,W. S.,


for what I apprehended to be my right, by endeav

oring to turn a certain stream of water into its natu


ral course, till it rose to a personal difference, in
which dispute I gave way to warmth of temper so far
as to put my friend W. into the pond; for which
action of mine, being contrary to the good order of
Friends, I am sorry, and desire, through divine as
sistance, *to live in unity with him for the future." f
*It is hoped that Elias Hicks never became subject to tho incon
to be
venient delusion recorded by Mclauder of an unhappy man, "qui opinas
tus cst, ex vitro sibi constatas clunes, sic ut omnia sua negotia p.tque
actioues stando perficeret, inetucns, uc, si in sedilo so inclinaret, iiate-
confringeret, ac vitri fragmcnta hinc iiidc dissilirent." Melan., Joco-
Scria, 433.
+
Friendly Sketches in America, by William Tallack.
SPENCER COWPER S CASE. 139

But it is not to wrath alone that Friends some


times give way. A
gentler passion occasionally
hurries fchem beyond the bounds of what is strictly
"

friendly."

Whereas, I was too forward and hasty in


"

making
suit to a young woman after the death of my wife,
haying made some proceedings that way in less
than four months, which I am now sensible was
*
wrong. As witness my hand, R. H."

Even that peaceful union which we are bound to


suppose a Quaker marriage to be (by the way, what
a very odd proceeding a Quaker courtship must be !

how do they get married at all ?) is sometimes dis


turbed by the sinful passions of humanity. Thus
we find that the "

Concord preparation-meeting com


plains of J. P. S. for breach of his marriage cove
nants in refusing to live with his wife, as a faithful
husband ought to do."

Nor does the traveler fail to observe the hospital


ity which we have already noticed as so commenda
ble amongst Friends, but which is sometimes carried
to an inconvenient excess.
"At meals," he there is generally several
"

says,
times the quantity of food placed upon the table
which could possibly be eaten by the heartiest appe
tites of those present, and plates are piled with so
much that they are seldom empty at the end of the
meal. * * It is usual to help a visitor to two 01
three slices of pie at a time."

*
Friendly Sketches in America, 195.
140 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

Times have certainly changed amongst the Quak


ers since
*
"

Brother Green was feasted


With a spiritual collation
By our frugal mayor,
Who can dine with a prayer,
And sup with an exhortation."

Still it must be admitted by all candid men that

Quakerism has its estimable as well as its ridiculous


side, and that a sect which can number amongst its
followers such men as William Penn, Elwood, the
friend of Milton, Barclay, Clarkson, Reynolds, the
philanthropist, and Dalton, the philosopher, deserves
a treatment far different from that which it has re
ceived from Lord Macaulay. To assert, without
one particle of evidence to support the statement,
that the Quakers deliberately planned a judicial
murder to conceal the fact that one of their body
had committed suicide, is just as monstrous as to
impute to the Tories that they were accomplices in
the crime. This unscrupulous treatment of facts,
and equally unscrupulous suggestion of motives, is
one of the most dangerous weapons a combatant
can w ield. No instrument of attack is so easily
r

turned against the party making use of it. If a


historian could be found equally unscrupulous as
Lord Macaulay, and as deeply imbued with opposite
prejudices, nothing would be easier than to para
phrase his account of Spencer Cowper s trial almost
in his own words, and with far less departure from
the facts. The narrative would then assume some
thing of the following form : "At Hertford resided
OF THE
UNIVERSITY
SPENCER COAVPER^S^HLIMI. r 141

a respectable Quaker family named Stout. One


daughter, a beautiful girl of strong sensibility and
lively imagination, formed a deep attachment to
Spencer Cowper. He trifled with her affections,
took every advantage of her unhappy state of mind,
and then cast her off and married another woman.
Her almost frantic attachment still continued. She
wrote letters to him breathing the deepest passion.
He paraded them before his brother (who was a
man of notoriously loose habits) and his other profli
gate associates. When he came to the Hertford
spring assizes in 1699, he went direct to her moth
er s house. He dined and supped there he spent ;

the evening in affectionate conversation with the


girlhe had betrayed. His bed was prepared in the
house, and the servant-girl was sent up to warm it.
Spencer Cowper and Sarah Stout were left together
in the parlor from that moment she was never
seen alive. They left the house together at half-
past ten at night, and in the morning her corpse
was discovered in the mill-dam. It would perhaps
be going too far to assert that Cowper was certainly
her murderer, but the case was one of the darkest
suspicion. He was placed upon his trial for murder,
but to anticipate a conviction would have been ab
surd. The law closed the mouth of the principal
witness, themother of the girl, for she was a Quaker,
and could not take an oath. The judge, a friend of
the Cowpers, indulged the prisoner in a
degree of
license in his defense which in the present day
would not be tolerated. The Cowpers were power
ful in Hertford, which was represented in Parlia-
142 JUDICIAL PUZZLES.

ment by the father and the brother of the prisoner.


Every artifice that could influence the minds of the
jury against Quakers and Tories was resorted to.
Every prejudice of religious or political fanaticism

against an unpopular sect and an obnoxious party


was appealed to. The consequence was that Cow-
per was acquitted. An attempt was made to place
him on his trial a second time by means of an ap
peal of murder, a proceeding which Lord Holt, in
this very case, designated as a noble badge of the
liberties ofan Englishman. But here again the in
fluence of the powerful family of the Cowpers par
alyzed the arm of justice. The sheriff was tam
pered with and the writ destroyed. The sheriff
paid the penalty of his misconduct by imprisonment
and fine, and was subjected to a severe rebuke from
Lord Holt. The Cowpers triumphed, but their ex
ultation was short. Outraged humanity vindicated
its rights. The press teemed with indignant pam-
plets, and at the next election both the Cowpers
were ignominiously ejected from the representation
^
of their native town."

Such is the mode in which this subject may be


treated, when, as in the old fable, the lion turns
sculptor. It is far nearer the truth than Lord

Macaulay s own. To gratify his political and


family aversions, Lord Macaulay lias raked up the
*
hardly necessary to remind any sudent of English history that
It is
"

Spencer Cowper and Sarah Stout are the Mosco and Zara of The New
Atlantis. See Vol. i, 106, 174, for a very fwll account of this unhappy
transaction. Lord Macaulay, who has drawn largely upon the stores of
this work in other instances, appears to have overlooked the; fact that
this narrative was to be found in the pages of a contemporary historian,
whose character for accuracy is second only to his own."
SPEXCER COWPER S CASE. 143

ashes of poor Sarah Stout, and has revived a very


discreditable incident in the history of a very
eminent family. He expresses surprise that none
of the biographers of the poet Cowper should have
alluded to this adventure of his grandfather. An
old proverb might have told him that there are
certain families amongst whom it is a breach of

good manners to make any mention of "hemp."


We think it was Quin who once introduced Foote
to a company as a gentleman whose father was
"

hanged for murdering his uncle." Polite and pious


biographers, such as Hayley and Southey, generally
avoid all such disagreeable subjects.
allusion to
Lord Macaulay puzzled by what appears to him
is

unnecessary delicacy, and has made the whole


scandalous story (for scandalous it must remain,
even taking the most favorable view) as notorious
as possible. Where one reader dives into the
State Trials," a thousand will read Lord Macaulay s
"

fifth volume ;
and all the world now has the advan
tage of knowing that the grandfather of "that
excellent man, and excellent poet," as Lord Macau-

lay justly calls William Cowper, behaved extremely


ill to a
pretty Quaker girl, and htid a narrow escape
from being hanged for murdering her.
INDEX.

A.
Abduction of female, 10.
motives for, 15.
of W. Harrison, 45.
and murder of boy, 30.
Acquittaleffect of, 104.
by verdict, 122.
Admission of disreputable character, 25.
Alibi plea of, 18, 19.

controverting evidence of, 34.


creating evidence of, 120.
Altham, Lord memoir of, 69,
Auglesea, Lord account of, 71.
.Annesley case of, 69.
James, account of, 70.
Richard, attempt at abduction by, 83.
abduction of nephew, 84.
Appeal of murder proceedings abolished, 122.
how esteemed by Lord Holt, 142.
Arrest on suspicion 52, 61.
Assertions of innocence on. -scaffold, value of, 99.

B.
Bennett evidence of, 14.
Breadheid, Janet executed for witchcraft, 57.
PTZZLES 13. [ 145 1
146 INDEX.

Brodie, Margaret witchcraft of, 54,

attempt at assassination, 55.


Bush protector of Jamea Annesley, 82.

o.
Calplmrnius, Flaccus on voluntary confession, 67,

Campden, Lady 39.

Campden Wonder 37.

Canning, Elizabeth case of, 9.


Capital punishment innocent victim of, S3,

scruples of Quakers, 126.


Chitty, Alderman examination before, 1G, 22.
Civil suits parties competent as witnesses, 106.
Clare, Philip false accusation against, 60.
Clarke, William statement of, 25.
Cobb, Mary evidence of, 33.
Confessions as evidence, 43.
of crime, delusions, 65.
as voice of conscience, 66.
voluntary, regarded with suspicion, 67.
of guilt, 99.
Confirmatory evidence to be scrutinized, 30.
Conviction of accused, 26.
on confessions, 52.
when virtual acquittal, 103.
Coroner s inquest insufficiency of, 114.

Corpus delicti to be proved, 52.


Cowper, Spencer case of, 109.
statement of, 114.

explanation of circumstances, 117.


Cowper, William self-conviction of crime, 51.
account of, 127,
trial of grandfather for murder, 128.
character of, 143.
Crime incentives to, 30.
suspicious circumstances, 40.
95.
suspicion by charging innocent party,
INDEX. 147

Crime Co ntinued.
imaginary commission of, 59.
motives for, pp. 79, 84.
Crimes evidence of guilt, 96.
absence of notice to exculpate, 97, 125.
hatred as an incentive to, 98.
public indignation at, 106.
Criminal right to exculpate himself, 106.
Crim. con. clandestine correspondence, 110.
betrayal of secrets, 110.
Criminal jurisprudence of French courts, 101.
of continental states, 101.
Criminal practice prohibition of examination of criminal
as witness, 100.
Cross-examination of culprit, effect of, 105,
of witnesses, 113.

D.
Dallas, "William examination before, 53.
Dead bodies floating properties of, 132, 133.
Defense what conclusive of falsehood, 26.
Delusions impressions from, 51.
accordance with prevailing belief, 53,
intercourse with the devil, 55.
self-conviction of guilt, 58, 64.
of a monomaniac, 59.
confessions of murder under, 65.
Description of place, 12.
of accessory, 13-16.
of person, coincidences, 33.
Disappearance mysterious account of, 44.
Divorce proceedings on false ground, 59.
case of on delusions, 63.
Dyer, Daniel evidence of, 33.
148

Eccles, Betty trial of, 97.

Eggleston accidental shooting of, 71.


Eliza Fenning s case, 87.
Elizabeth Canning s case, 9.
Emsley, Mrs. murder of, 99,
Escape from durance, 13.
Evidence effect of suspicion, 28.

suspicious circumstances, 120.


when incompetent, 24, 25.
circumstantial, 31.
extrinsic confirmation, 32.
identity of person, 33.
weight of on question of alibi, 34.

contradictory, effect of, 73, 80, 119


effect of lapse of time, 76.

suspicion from failure to produce witness, 85.


statement of prisoner, 94.
factsimplying innocence, 94.
extracting truth by torture, 105.
effect of excluding testimony of accused, 114.
conjectures from facts, 118.
of scientific experts, 126.
Execution of innocent person, 188.
by hanging in chains, 44.
Experts as witnesses on scientific subject, 126.

Factions created by trials at law, 27.


Fairyland visit to, 55.
Fanaticism religious and political, 126.
Fenning, Eliza case of, 87,
Fielding, Henry as novelist and magistrate, 20.

opinion in Canning s case, 21.


IXDEX. 149

Fitzgerald, Major testimony of, 73.

Floating body inferences from, 114.


Forbes, Harie confessions made to, 53.
Forfeiture for carrying contraband, 48.

GK
Gadsden evidence of, 93.
Garth, Samuel evidence as expert, 127.
Gascoigne Lord Mayor, 27.
Gibbons, John statement of, 25.
Gipseys as factionists, 27.
Gleeson, Wilson case of, 30.
Gowdie, Isabell confession of witchcraft, 53.
execution of, 57.

Greville, Thomas evidence of, 25.


Guilt sufficient evidence of, 97.

Guilty person armor of law around, 101.

H.
Haley biographer, 143.
Hall, Virtue examination of, 22.
Hallucination self-conviction under, 50, 58.
.See INSANITY.
Harrison, W. reputed murder of, 39.
Hatsell, Judge trial before, character of, 131.

Hay, Bessie delusions of, 56.


Heineccius confessions defined, 66.
Hempen widow defined, 26.
Hendricksoii, Mrs. murder of, 100.
Hicks, Sir B. proprietor of Campden House, 37.
Historians perversion of facts by, 140.
Holt, Lord appeal of murder, how designated, 142.
Hopley, Elizabeth case of, 60.
House of ill fame what not, 30.
Human passions of Quakers, 139.
150 INDEX.

Identity proof of, 18, 19.

Imprisonment of sheriff for misconduct, 122, 142.


Incantations to the devil, 56, 57.
Indictment several parties jointly, 122.
Information of robbery and abduction, 22.

Inhumanity exhibition of by audience in court-room, 2G.


Imser evidence of, 25.
Innocence proved after execution, 50.
legal presumption of, 101.
Insanity impressions produced, 51, 62, 64.
self-iiioulpation of guilt, 58, 65, 67.
forms of, 59.
attempt to prove on trial, 129.
insufficient proof of, 129.
inferred from voluntary confession, 67.
Instruction to jury on conflicting testimony, 34.
Issues virtual admissions on, 72.
to be jointly tried, 103.

J.

Jack Cade evidence to prove royal descent, 16.


Jealousy as an insane delusion, 58.
Judicial incompetency 88.
Jurisprudence anomalies in, 101.
rules of not to be set aside, 106.
criminal, ultimate object of, 106.
extra judicial inquiry, 106,

K.
Kidnapping motive requisite, 49.
INDEX. 151

Laffan, Joan evidence of, 77.


Laird of Parkis enchantment of, 57.
Landy, Joan alleged issue of, 81.

M.
Macaulay, Lord remarks as to Quakers and Tories, 122.
criticism on, 123, 129.
Mackenzie, Sir G. observations on witchcraft, 58.
Magistrate examination before, 20.
commitment and discharge, 20.

Marriage by Quakers, 139.


Malice insufficient cause for, 92.
Martiu, Jean delusion of, 56.
Maternal solicitude strength of, 113.
Melancholy insanity 67.
Mental disease self-conviction, 50.
Monomaniac delusions of, 59.
Motive absence of as an argument of innocence, 29,
for crime, sufficiency of, 97.

religious and political fanaticism, 135.


Mullins execution for murder, 99.
Murder by starvation, 30.
by poisoning, 98.
accusation of, 109.
insufficient evidence of, 120.
Murder and robbery 41.
Murphy, Eleanor evidence of, 81.
Myers, Mary statement of, 13.

N.
Natus, Fortune testimony of, 20, 29.
Natus, Judith arrest of, 23.
152 INDEX.

Negligence in keeping poisons, 91.


Neshie, Elspetli delusions of, 56.
Neville, Eveline murder of, 98.
Noel, Lord 37,

o.
Outraged humanity vindication of, 142.
Overbury, Sir Thomas 44.

Palliser, Tom plot against, 77.


statement of, 78.
Pardon on weight of evidence, 27.

Pedigree evidence of, 71.


issues on trial, 72.
facts to prove, 7G.
Peer, Sarah suspicions against, 92,
Penalty for misconduct of sheriff, 122, 142.

Perjury contradiction of witnesses, 20, 81.


arraignment for, 28.
grounds of action for, 28.
when inferred, 81, 103.
indictment for, 85.
Perry, John suspected of murder, 39
Philological curiosity 131.
Pigot, Captain murder of, G5.
Plot against wife, 77.
Plummer, Eugenia offense committed on, 102,

conviction for perjury, 103.


Poisoning crime of, 90.
91.
poison, procurement of,
negligence in keeping, 91.
93.
suspicious circumstances,
habit of, 98.
Purcell protector of J. Aimesley, 82.
INDEX. 153

Quaker incompetent as witness, 112.


historical remarks about, 122.
scruples as to capital punishment, 126.
literature of, 135.
character and habits of, 136.
amusements of, 137.

prudence of, 138.

subject to human passions, 139.


marriages by, 139.
hospitalities of, 139.
Quakeress story of, 110.
Quakerism considered, 140.
falseimputations against, 14&,
Quin anecdote of, 143.

B.
Ramsay the painter, 27.
Rape accusation of, 102.
Redding gamekeeper, 70.
Road Murder, The 106.
Robbery in Moorfields, 9,

s.
Salt solicitor, 21.
Robert statement of,
Scarratt, 13.
Seduction and betrayal 110.
Self-inculpation falsity of, 64.
Sentence to death penalty, 26.
brnnding and imprisonment, 26.
to

grounds of, 27.


respste,
Separation of husband and wife, grounds for, 72.
154 INDEX.

Shakspeare boyhood haunts of, 37.


Sheriffpenalty for misconduct, 122, 142.
Southey biographer, 143.
Spencer Cowper s case 109.

Squires, Mary charge against, 18.


arraignment of, 25.
Squires, George evidence of, 19.
Statements on suggestion, value of, 13.
of abducted female, credibility of, 14-17.
Stout, Sarah alleged murder of, 1G9.

Suspicion of crime, 18.

T.

Teshmaker examination before, 20, 29.


Thomas the Rhymer visit to fairyland, 55.

Tigh protector of J. Annesley, 84.


Tories Macaulay s strictures on, 122.
Trial renunciation of confession, 43
for witchcraft, 58.
for recovery of estate, issues on, 71.
denials and subsequent admissions, 81.
effect of abandonment of statements, 96.

malignant and unfair conduct of, 131.

Turner, John evidence of, 75.


Mrs., examination of, 93, 94.
Orlibar, poisoning of, 90.
Robert, poisoning of, 89.
Sir Christopher, 52.

u.

Unfortunate denned, 26.


ENDEX. 155

V.
Verdict inconsistency of, 35.
inferences from findings, 85, 86.
against popular sympathy, 89
confirmation by public opinion, 100.
conflicts in, 103, 104.
of acquittal, 122.
Vemoru Admiral 70.

w.
Walker, Sarah testimony of, 112.
cross-examination of, 113.
Wall, Samuel declarations of, CO.
Warrant for apprehension of accessory, grounds for, 16.
Wells, Susannah arraignment of, 25.
Wet Quaker denned, 137.
Wife incompetent as witness, 102.
Wilson, Bessie delusions of, 56.
Gleeson, examination of, 100.
Witchcraft of Joan Perry, 43.
confessions of, 53.
destroying fruits of land, 54.
odious nature of crime, 58.
Witness failure to examine, suspicious, 29.
exclusion of accused party, 100-102.
culprit should be admitted to testify, 104.
incompetency of Quaker, 112.
effect of rule excluding accused, 114.
examinations of physician as expert, 133.